What is red, has scales and is itchy? Scalp Psoriasis

What is red, has scales and is itchy? The answer is psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition. Individuals who struggle with psoriasis have lesions that form on their skin. These lesions are usually red in color with white scaling. Other typical symptoms include itchiness, skin flaking, and swelling 1. If you struggle with psoriasis, you are not alone. Approximately 0.6% to 4.8% of the population has this condition 2.

Psoriasis can occur on several parts of the body. Scalp involvement can occur in upwards of 80% of people with psoriasis 3,4. With psoriasis of the scalp, hair grows through the scales creating a very rough texture to the touch. These scales are much thicker than those scales that can develop in other body locations. The location and the amount of lesions formed on the scalp can vary depending on the individual.

Not all cases of psoriasis are the same. The more severe the psoriasis, the greater impact on the physical and mental status of the individual 5. There are many risk factors involved with this condition. Several studies have looked at depression as a possible risk factor. It was found that nurses who had displayed symptoms of depression had an increased risk of developing psoriasis as compared to those who were not depressed (n=2,000)6. A possible connection between depression and psoriasis may be the underlining pathways of inflammation found in both conditions 7. Weight might also be a risk factor. Weight gain and an increased body mass index can increase the risk of psoriasis 8. It’s been found that women who are physically active had a decreased risk of developing this condition 8. A family history of psoriasis can also increase the likelihood of developing this condition.

There are many different types of treatments available. Please stay tuned for a future blog that will cover all the different treatment options for this condition. If you have any questions, ensure to speak with you doctor or a hair care professional to get the resources you need.

Article by: Sarah Versteeg MSc, Mediprobe Research Inc. 

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  2. Naldi L. Epidemiology of psoriasis. Curr Drug Targets Inflamm Allergy. 2004 Jun;3(2):121–8.
  3. Merola JF, Li T, Li W-Q, Cho E, Qureshi AA. Prevalence of psoriasis phenotypes among men and women in the USA. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2016 Feb 18;
  4. Guenther L. Current management of scalp psoriasis. Skin Ther Lett. 2015 Jun;20(3):5–7.
  5. Rapp SR, Feldman SR, Exum ML, Fleischer AB, Reboussin DM. Psoriasis causes as much disability as other major medical diseases. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1999 Sep;41(3 Pt 1):401–7.
  6. Dominguez PL, Han J, Li T, Ascherio A, Qureshi AA. Depression and the risk of psoriasis in US women. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol JEADV. 2013 Sep;27(9):1163–7.
  7. Bremmer MA, Beekman ATF, Deeg DJH, Penninx BWJH, Dik MG, Hack CE, et al. Inflammatory markers in late-life depression: results from a population-based study. J Affect Disord. 2008 Mar;106(3):249–55.
  8. Frankel HC, Han J, Li T, Qureshi AA. The association between physical activity and the risk of incident psoriasis. Arch Dermatol. 2012 Aug;148(8):918–24.






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