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Hair Loss From Scalp Psoriasis: Why This Can Happen and How To Avoid It

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Psoriasis can be an ongoing autoimmune condition where the immune system stimulates the rapid overgrowth of skin cells, causing them to pile up and form itchy red or silvery plaques and skin irritation.

Psoriasis can occur in the skin of the body as well as the scalp, and around 50% of people that have psoriasis have to deal with a flare-up of scalp psoriasis at some point.

Another unfortunate consequence of psoriasis on your scalp is that it may lead to hair loss or breakage.

Below, we will dive deeper into hair loss from scalp psoriasis including just how psoriasis can cause hair loss, if the hair loss from psoriasis is permanent, and how to help reduce the extent of hair loss and breakage when dealing with scalp psoriasis.

How does scalp psoriasis cause hair loss?

The most common way that scalp psoriasis can cause hair loss is from the plaques themselves on the scalp. These plaques can be very itchy and cause the sufferer to scratch at them or remove them. This scratching and rough removal of plaques can end up with the effect of taking some of the contained hair out with it.

Another issue that may develop with scalp psoriasis is that the hair itself can become more dry and brittle through the use of the applied medications or medicated shampoos that help get the psoriasis plaques under control. This can lead to hair being more prone to breakage and make the hair appear to be getting thinner or losing length from the additional breakage.

Is hair loss from scalp psoriasis permanent?

On the bright side, almost all hair loss caused directly by scalp psoriasis is not permanent, and your hair should grow back once the psoriasis is under control with treatment, avoidance of triggers, or both. 

Rarely, in severe cases, increased infiltrate could end up destroying the follicle itself and lead to scarring of the scalp where the hair does not fully grow back. In one study in patients with psoriatic alopecia, about 5 out of 47 cases experienced this kind of scarring.

How to help reduce hair loss and breakage when you have scalp psoriasis

The best way to limit hair loss from scalp psoriasis is to keep your psoriasis under control by listening to your doctor, using your psoriasis medications as directed, avoiding your personal flare-up triggers, and getting treatment at the beginning of a flare.

If it is the scalp scratching that is causing hair loss, it may be smart to keep your nails short and rounded to help reduce damage to the hair and scalp when and if you go to scratch. 

Since your hair may be more fragile and dry when you have scalp psoriasis, both from the inflammation as well as drying treatments, it is important to treat your hair more gently to reduce hair loss and breakage.

Below, are a few ways that you can be more gentle and nourishing to your hair and scalp when you have scalp psoriasis:

  • Always use a moisturizing conditioner after using a medicated shampoo.
  • Consider alternating your medicated psoriasis shampoo with a gentle moisturizing shampoo every other wash.
  • Air dry your hair to avoid additional scalp dryness from a blow dryer.
  • Avoid coloring, bleaching, or heat styling your hair when you are dealing with scalp plaques.
  • Brush your hair gently.
  • Avoid picking at the psoriasis scales.

How to determine if your hair loss is due to psoriasis or something else

Just because you are dealing with psoriasis and are noticing hair loss, it does not necessarily mean that they are related.

It is possible to have psoriasis, while also experiencing hair loss for another reason. The most common cause of hair loss in both men and women is androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss. It is possible that this may be occurring simultaneously. 

Talk to your doctor about your hair loss concerns. They will be able to determine if your hair loss or thinning is due to psoriasis, or from another cause.

If your hair loss occurs when you do not currently have active psoriasis plaques on your scalp, it is possible that something else is going on.

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