Beauty Fitness and Dermatology

Psoriasis on Scalp - Picture, Cause, symptoms and treatment of Psoriasis

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a common, chronic, inflammatory skin disease, the cause of which is unknown. It is usually found on the scalp, elbows, knees, chest and the lower back. It rarely affects the face, and can be spread by irritation.

Psoriasis is a very common disease in Britain; it is estimated that 1-2 million people suffer from it. The main problem is that the skin grows too rapidly in some places, forming a silvery scale over thick patches which become inflamed and red. Patches of psoriasis develop over areas where the skin is frequently knocked or has been injured in grazes, cuts and operation scars. The scalp is badly affected and the scaling gives rise to hard lumps and very flaky dandruff. Psoriasis is harmless but can become very distressing as it can be very difficult to cope mentally with the appearance of the skin. Many sufferers dislike exposing their skin when sunbathing or playing sports. Moreover, painful fissures can be troublesome and itching can be a nuisance.

Symptoms and causes of Psoriasis

This chronic disease of the skin manifests itself in patches of redness accompanied by loose silvery white scales. It has been observed that one-fourth of psoriasis patients, have other family members who also suffer from the same disease, indicating that psoriasis is hereditary. The condition can start at any age. The number and extent of lesions differs from patient to patient and in a given patient from time to time. There may be only a few lesions or the whole body may be involved. Most people start to get patches between the ages of 15 and 25, but it can develop at any age from childhood to extreme old age. I have seen a person who was 95 when he first developed the problem. The attacks of psoriasis may be triggered by an illness, especially a sore throat, an operation, the use of certain drugs, an injury or sunburn.

Psoriasis tends to get better in summer and worse in winter but tends to come and go on its own and may clear up completely for years before a new patch develops. As stated earlier, the very common sites of involvement are usually the scalp, elbows, knees and buttocks. Scalp lesions are well defined and are covered with a rather heavy mass of scales as opposed to seborrhoeic dermatitis, where there is a diffused involvement of the whole scalp and the scaling is not so heavy. Nails, in more than 50 per cent of the psoriatics, show some abnormality like pitting, ridging or thickening and discoloration. One to two per cent of psoriatic patients may develop pain in the joints, especially in the distal joints on fingers. An overweight individual with psoriasis should resort to systematic weight reduction. Patients who are not overweight are best advised to eat as balanced a diet as possible. The aim of treatment in psoriasis is to bring about a remission as early as possible and to maintain it for as long a period as possible.

Treatment of Psoriasis - How to cure Psoriasis?

Most psoriasis treatments are ointments based on coal tar and dithranol. Consult your doctor before starting a treatment. These ointments can be very effective although they take some time (sometimes many months to work). They are smelly and stain clothes and the skin, so it is best to apply them at night when going to sleep and to use old sheets. Dithranol can burn the eteroids like 1 per cent Hydrocortisone or Betamethasone velerate 0.1 per cent are used for treatment. In patients with limited involvement, Corticosteroids can also be applied under occlusion. A recent mode of treatment in vogue in the United States is to administer Methoxy psorlen (a sun sensitiser) and expose the body to ultraviolet light. For this purpose specially constructed chambers lined with ultraviolet lamps are available. The long-term effects of this method are yet to be fully assessed and the theoretical risk of cancer developing by this method is already worrying some researchers.

Ultraviolet radiation from sunshine, for example, 2 to 3 weeks of sunbathing, may clear your psoriasis for some months. Ultraviolet lamps will also help and may be helpful in 4 to 6 weeks courses but should be used longer only on your doctor's advice as prolonged treatment may have harmful long-term effects. Sunburn must be avoided as this will worsen the psoriasis. Sunbeds and ultraviolet A (UVA) lamps will really improve the psoriasis if used in combination with drugs called Psoralens (PUVA). Regular PUVA treatment will usually control bad psoriasis, but increase the risk of skin ageing and skin cancer, especially in fair skin. The treatment is used only for bad psoriasis and under medical supervision.

Many of the anticancer drugs will slow down skin growth and control psoriasis. However, they usually have unpleasant side effects. Methotrexate is used in very severe psoriasis and has to be taken continuously. Regular liver and blood checks are essential. New drugs derived from Vitamin A (Retinoids) have been used for psoriasis but they also cause liver and blood problems and are used only in severe cases.

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