Scalp Psoriasis Treatment
Scalp psoriasis is a form of psoriasis that appears on and around your scalp, neck, or ears. Over half the people who have psoriasis get it on their scalp. Symptoms can range from mild flaking to more severe thick-crusted areas called plaques or lesions.
This common skin condition can show up in any age group. It causes skin cells to multiply faster than usual, which alters the surface of your skin with a variety of noticeable discolorations, texture changes, and itchiness. A dermatologist in Manhattan can help you with the discomfort and guide you to the best options for treatment.
The first thing you may notice with scalp psoriasis is that your head starts itching and powder or dandruff-type flakes appear on your clothes. Your hairline or the crown of your head may have a patch of skin that turns a silver-white color. Your hair may start thinning, and the spot feels sore. These skin patches may feel rough or bumpy, and they appear on your forehead or around the back of your ears or neck.
Scalp psoriasis isn’t contagious to others at all, but it can spread on your own skin. Besides the itching, the most frustrating thing about scalp psoriasis is that it doesn’t look good. You may find yourself wearing a scarf, even on a hot day. You may start wearing your hair at a certain length or in a style that covers the damaged skin. There is no known cure to eliminate psoriasis entirely, so it’s categorized as a chronic condition. If your skin clears up completely, it’s said to be in remission because the symptoms are likely to return.
The Good News
The good news is that treatment can reduce or eliminate itchiness and other symptoms while improving the look of your affected skin. The treatment options vary for scalp psoriasis, depending on the exact location, severity, or symptoms. Your reaction to various medications or procedures also plays a role in the treatments that you and your skin doctor decide to try.
It’s important to track the progress of each treatment, whether it makes your symptoms better or worse. Follow-up care with your NYC dermatologist can help you find the unique treatment program that brings you the highest amount of relief.
How Your NYC Dermatologist Can Help
Your New York City dermatologist has several oral prescription options for scalp psoriasis, which work throughout your body. In other words, the treatment is systemic. These include:
- Acitretin: This is an FDA-approved synthetic vitamin A medication that’s used to treat severe psoriasis. Your dermatologist in Manhattan may start you out on a low dose and increase the dosage as needed. It comes in a capsule form that you take once a day with meals. Acitretin usually doesn’t work right away; in fact, it may take up to three months before you start seeing any improvements.
Don’t take acitretin if you’re pregnant or thinking you may want to become pregnant within the next three years. It’s vital that you work with your skin doctor to monitor the birth control you’re taking to insure you don’t conceive. Additionally, acitretin may cause liver damage.
- Cyclosporine: This immunosuppressive drug is used to treat people who have had an organ transplant to help avoid rejection. Modified, it has a number of other helpful uses, including treating rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. It works by slowing down the growth of cells. You usually take it in liquid or capsule form twice a day. You’ll notice relief for your scalp psoriasis within about two weeks and complete relief within 12 to 16 weeks.
Cyclosporine may interact with other medications, so make sure to tell your New York dermatologist about any and all medications you’re taking, including vitamin supplements and herbs. The drug can lead to premature birth if you’re pregnant or become pregnant while you’re taking it. It also can cause gum tissue growth, so it’s vital that you brush your teeth carefully once you start the treatment.
- Methotrexate: This drug also slows down skin cell growth. It’s widely used to treat certain kinds of cancer such as lung, neck, skin, and breast cancer. It also has proven successful for treating severe rheumatoid arthritis pain and scalp psoriasis. It’s vital that you carefully follow your Manhattan dermatologist’s directions for taking the medication, usually once a week. There have been deaths reported from people who took too much.
Methotrexate should not be taken if you have liver damage or drink alcohol. It also shouldn’t be used if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning on becoming pregnant. Side effects that you should report immediately to your skin doctor include dark urine, appetite loss, stools that are clay-colored, shortness of breath, jaundice, or blood in your urine.
- UV light therapy: Also called phototherapy, this treatment involves exposing your scalp to ultraviolet light under a controlled environment in the office of your New York dermatologist. Special light therapy equipment is used that penetrates your skin and slows skin cell growth. You may not see results right away; your scalp psoriasis actually may worsen at first. But once your doctor finds the correct settings and you review consistent treatment over several weeks, you’ll see improvements.
Side effects may include itching and redness at first that dissipates eventually. Phototherapy sometimes is used in combination with other medications to increase the chance of reducing your symptoms.
- Excimer laser: This light treatment has recently been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat moderate to severe psoriasis. It’s proven to be especially effective for treating scalp psoriasis. The laser emits a high-intensity beam of UVB light directly to affected areas on your scalp.
Lasers affect everyone differently, so it’s difficult to say how quickly you’ll see results. You may notice a difference in your symptoms within four to 10 sessions. You can see your dermatologist twice a week as long as you wait 48 hours between treatments. Side effects are determined by your reaction to the laser but could include burning, scabbing, or itching that dissipates.
- Otezla: Otezla is an oral medication prescribed by your dermatologist. It’s used for both severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It works by inhibiting an enzyme that causes inflammation in your skin cells.
The most common side effects and risks with Otezla are diarrhea, nausea, and headaches that may go away after a couple of days of psoriasis treatment. While you should take medicine only as directed by your dermatologist in NYC, the National Psoriasis Foundation has determined that Otezla is safe when taken over a long period of time.
- Biologics: Biologics are genetically engineered proteins that are designed to inhibit specific parts of the immune system that are involved in inflammation, which leads to psoriasis.
Due to the fact that biologics inhibit immune functions, side effects may include increased risk of infections and, rarely, increased risk of malignancy.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult dermatologist NYC about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified dermatology doctor or pediatric dermatologist could determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.Locations: Manhattan Dermatology (Upper East Side) 983 Park Ave, Ste 1D1, NY 10028
(212) 427-8750 Manhattan Dermatology (Midtown) 56 W 45th St, Ste 819, NY 10036
(212) 889-2402 Manhattan Dermatology (Union Square) 55 W 17th St, Ste 103, NY 10011