Psoriasis and Hair Loss—Is There A Connection?
Many women take pride in the beauty of their hair. But when you’re living with a scalp condition it can make caring for your tresses a bit more difficult, as you might experience a dry, flaky scalp, hair breakage, and bald spots. These conditions can make caring for your hair stressful and may require you to pay extra attention to keep your hair healthy and strong.
People with psoriasis may also notice some of these issues. If you’re one of the millions of people with this disease you may have the question, does psoriasis cause hair loss? Keep reading to find out the answer.
What is Psoriasis?
Let’s start by defining what psoriasis is. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes your skin cells to build up into dry, scaly patches known as plaques. These plaques can surface anywhere on the body, but they’re most common to show up on your knees, elbows, face, and scalp. About 50 percent of people with plaque psoriasis experience it on their scalp.
Scalp psoriasis can often mimic other scalp conditions, such as dandruff or dry scalp. Some key symptoms of psoriasis are well-defined patches of red or silvery scales. This disease is also classified as causing intense inflammation all around the body and can come in different levels of severity for each person. Psoriasis typically goes through periods of flare-ups and remission, which means there can be times when patients do not experience any symptoms of the disease.
Does Psoriasis Lead to Hair Loss?
So, the big question is can psoriasis lead to hair loss? The answer is yes, but luckily it is only temporary. The lesions that are left on the scalp can be dry and itchy, which may make you want to scratch your head or pick at the scales. This can damage your hair follicles. Some people may also try to overcompensate for flare-ups by over manipulating their hair into intricate protective styles or dying their hair many colors, which can cause breakage. But again, this breakage is only temporary and can be mitigated with a little bit of self-care and management of the disease.
How Can You Prevent Hair Loss?
If you’re living with scalp psoriasis there are a few things you can do to prevent unnecessary hair loss:
Treat Your Psoriasis
One of the best things you can do to prevent hair loss is to get rid of the source of it, which means learning how to manage your psoriasis. Hair loss is most likely to occur during a severe outbreak, so you should try to avoid stimuli that can trigger any flare-ups. If you find yourself in the middle of a symptom outbreak, then try to reduce the severity of your plaques through topical treatments or other medicines that were prescribed to you by your doctor.
Switch Up Your Wash Routine
Another way you can protect your tresses is by updating your wash routine. You should use a shampoo that is specially formulated to treat scalp psoriasis. Ingredients like salicylic acid and coal tar can reduce the severity of your scales and make them easier to remove. If you find these shampoos to be overly drying, then you may need to alternate your washes with your medicated shampoo and a gentle, non-medicated one.
You’ll want to make sure that you’re being very gentle while you wash your hair. Try to keep your nails smooth and free of any ridges or sharp edges. These can snag onto your hair strands and pull them out. You’ll also want to avoid scrubbing your head too harshly or using your nails as this can cause further damage to your scalp.
Limit your amount of hot tools
Heat can worsen the effects of psoriasis by making your scalp drier. It can also leave your hair strands dry and prone to breakage. Let your hair air dry after you wash it instead of using a blow dryer. If you’re looking to add curls or volume to your hair, then try using non-heat methods of curling, like braid-outs, twist-outs, and hair rollers. There are many different ways to style your hair in ways that limit damage to the hair, you just have to research and find the techniques that work best for you.
Keep your hair moisturized
It can sometimes be difficult to keep your hair and scalp moisturized when dealing with psoriasis. When your scalp is dry chances are that your hair strands are too, and that can make your hair more likely to break off. The best way to prevent losing your hair this way is to keep your hair as hydrated as possible.
Always follow up with a conditioner and a moisturizer to reduce the chances of your hair breaking. If you’re trying to add extra moisture, consider sealing in your natural moisture with oil once it’s air-dried. Argan oil is a great option because it has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that can help tame your scalp and keep your hair hydrated. Coconut oil is commonly recommended as a way to alleviate some of the pain and itchiness from psoriasis plaques. These oils can also be applied directly on your scalp to provide a little bit of relief from your plaques.
Talk to your dermatologist
It’s always best to get advice from a medical professional if you’re noticing hair loss or if your psoriasis is becoming unmanageable. Your dermatologist will be able to provide you with a list of all the different treatment options available to you and give you individualized recommendations. Be honest with them if you notice any side effects from both prescribed medications as well as over-the-counter treatments. They’ll be able to guide you on how to make the proper substitutions.
Scalp psoriasis can lead to hair loss if left untreated, but this doesn’t have to be your fate. By caring for your hair and staying on top of managing your condition, your hair can grow to be just as long and healthy as anyone else's.