Today I wanted to talk with you guys about Psoriasis. In November 2015, I was diagnosed with scalp & skin psoriasis. I had a feeling for months prior to getting the confirmation from my dermatologist, that I indeed had this condition. My best friend also suffers from scalp & skin psoriasis, so I already was familiar with what it was and what it looked like. And no, this condition is not contagious in anyway. It was a total coincidence that both she and I suffer from this. If we weren’t close before, we are definitely joined at the hip now that we have this is common lol. My scalp psoriasis is definitely way more severe than that of my skin. I am lucky that the psoriasis I can sometimes get on the skin is very mild and only seems to pop up every once in a while. Usually in cold weather where my skin gets dry or when I am stressed out over something. The scalp psoriasis on the other hand, is something I need to deal with on a weekly basis. I first noticed this on my scalp when I would wash my hair and I could never get rid of all the flakes or what I thought was dandruff. I could wash my hair 3 times a week with 2-3 rinses in each wash and the flaking would not budge. I tried dandruff shampoos, deep conditioning & hot oil treatments as well and although it would help some, within a couple of days my scalp would be covered in dandruff and itchy. Literally my scalp was shedding, like if it were snowing every day on my head! As you can imagine, it was very unpleasant! Especially when wearing any clothing of color like black or navy. And the skin behind my ears was also very dry and flaky no matter how many times I washed & cleaned out my ears. After months and months of suffering in silence and trying to solve the issues I had on my own, I finally decided to go see a dermatologist and figure out what the heck was up with me! Around this same time was when I started getting small dry patches on my skin, on my stomach and on my legs/ankles. After getting a thorough examination of my skin and scalp by my dermatologist, he told me you have PSORIASIS.
After hearing him say the words, I was just honestly relieved that I finally knew what was wrong and that it wasn’t something even worse. He basically told me what psoriasis is and that it was something I unfortunately had to learn how to live with because there was no cure. That I would have to make some lifestyle changes like for example, reducing stress, eating a bit healthier and being more active by going out for walks in the sun because UV rays are actually good for clearing up psoriasis. After explaining in detail, he went on to prescribe 3 medications. First, the medicated coal tar shampoo for my scalp that I had to use every other day. Second, an ointment that contained steroids for the dry patches on my skin. And lastly, oil based ear drops to clear up the skin flakiness behind my ears. With these 3 medications in hand, he said it should clear up my scalp and help with my skin dry patches in no time. Out of all the medications, the shampoo really knocked my socks off! After 1-2 uses my scalp was completely clear and flake free! I was in heaven; it had been forever since I had last seen my scalp look and feel so good! I’ve been using all 3 items on a regular basis, my psoriasis flare ups have definitely been more controlled and I am very grateful to my dermatologist!
My hope by writing this post is that it can help others come to cope with their diagnosis. Or give a little nudge to people who suspect they have psoriasis, by going and getting their scalp or skin checked out with their dermatologist. Even though there is no cure for psoriasis at this moment, there are various effective medications in the market to help keep it under control and from affecting your everyday life. I consider myself very lucky because the psoriasis I have is very mild, I know others who suffer from severe plaque psoriasis and it really can be debilitating. Please know that you are NOT ALONE!
WHAT IS PSORIASIS: (BY: WEBMD)
“Unpredictable and irritating, psoriasis is one of the most baffling and persistent of skin disorders. It’s characterized by skin cells that multiply up to 10 times faster than normal. As underlying cells reach the skin’s surface and die, their sheer volume causes raised, red plaques covered with white scales. Psoriasis typically occurs on the knees, elbows, and scalp, and it can also affect the torso, palms, and soles of the feet.
The symptoms of psoriasis vary depending on the type you have. Some common symptoms for plaque psoriasis — the most common variety of the condition includes:
- Plaques of red skin, often covered with loose, silver-colored scales; these lesions may be itchy and painful, and they sometimes crack and bleed. In severe cases, the plaques of irritated skin will grow and merge into one another, covering large areas.
- Disorders of the fingernails and toenails, including discoloration and pitting of the nails; the nails may also begin to crumble or detach from the nail bed.
- Plaques of scales or crust on the scalp
Psoriasis can also be associated with psoriatic arthritis, which leads to pain and swelling in the joints. The National Psoriasis Foundation estimates that between 10% to 30% of people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis.
Image: Via WEBMD
WHAT CAUSES PSORIASIS?
A variety of factors — ranging from emotional stress and trauma to streptococcal infection — can cause an episode of psoriasis. Recent research indicates that some abnormality in the immune system is the key cause of psoriasis. As many as 80% of people having flare-ups report a recent emotional trauma, such as a new job or the death of a loved one. Most doctors believe such external stressors serve as triggers for an inherited defect in immune function.
Injured skin and certain drugs can aggravate psoriasis, including certain types of blood pressure medications(like beta-blockers), the anti-malarial medication hydroxychloroquine, and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.).
Psoriasis tends to run in families, but it may be skip generations; a grandfather and his grandson may be affected, but the child’s mother never develops the disease. Although psoriasis may be stressful and embarrassing, most outbreaks are relatively harmless. With appropriate treatment, symptoms generally subside within a few months”.
WHAT IS SCALP PSORIASIS (BY: WEBMD)
“Scalp psoriasis is a common skin disorder that makes raised, reddish, often scaly patches. It can pop up as a single patch or several, and can even affect your entire scalp. It can also spread to your forehead, the back of your neck, or behind your ears.
You can’t catch scalp psoriasis from another person. As with other types, we don’t know what causes it. Doctors believe it comes from something wrong with your immune system that causes skin cells to grow too quickly and build up into patches. You may be more likely to get scalp psoriasis if it runs in your family.
About half of the estimated 7.5 million Americans with psoriasis – which can affect any skin surface – have it on their scalp. Sometimes the scalp is the only place they have it, but that’s uncommon.
Scalp psoriasis can be mild and almost unnoticeable. But it can also be severe, last a long time, and cause thick, crusted sores. Intense itching can affect your sleep and everyday life, and scratching a lot can lead to skin infections and hair loss.
Symptoms of mild scalp psoriasis may include only slight, fine scaling. Symptoms of moderate to severe scalp psoriasis include:
- Scaly, red, bumpy patches
- Silvery-white scales
- Dandruff-like flaking
- Dry scalp
- Burning or soreness
- Hair loss
Scalp psoriasis itself doesn’t cause hair loss, but scratching a lot or very hard, picking at the scaly spots, harsh treatments, and the stress that goes along with the condition can lead to temporary hair loss. Fortunately, your hair usually grows back after your skin clears.
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor or dermatologist. He may simply take a look or do a skin biopsy to rule out similar conditions like seborrheic dermatitis.
The first line of defense is treatment you use directly on your skin: medicated shampoos, creams, gels, oils, ointments, and soaps. You can get some of these products over the counter, but stronger ones require a prescription”.