Psoriasis Home > Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is a skin disease caused by a malfunction in the immune system. Over half the people with psoriasis have it on their scalp. In most cases, the condition results in patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. Severe cases of psoriasis on the scalp can lead to temporary hair loss. Treatment options include topical treatment, light treatment, or systemic therapy, or combination therapy.

What Is Scalp Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes scaling and swelling. Psoriasis affects 2 percent to 2.6 percent of the United States population, or between 5.8 and 7.5 million people. The scalp is one common location where psoriasis can occur. In fact, over half the people with psoriasis have it on their scalp.
Anyone can get scalp psoriasis, but it occurs more often in adults. Sometimes there is a family history of psoriasis. Certain genes have also been linked to the disease. Men and women get scalp psoriasis at about the same rate. Scalp psoriasis can occur by itself or with other types of psoriasis.

What Causes It?

Just like other types of psoriasis, scalp psoriasis begins in the immune system, mainly with a type of white blood cell called a T cell. T cells help protect the body against infection and disease. With psoriasis, T cells are put into action by mistake. They become so active that they set off other immune responses. This leads to swelling and fast turnover of skin cells.
People with scalp psoriasis may notice that sometimes the skin gets better and sometimes it gets worse. Things that can cause scalp psoriasis to get worse include:
  • Infections
  • Stress
  • Changes in weather that dry the skin
  • Certain medicines.
(Click Psoriasis Causes for more information about the causes of scalp psoriasis.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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