Scalp psoriasis. It can appear behind the ear as shown on the left. It can cause a silvery-white scale and temporary hair loss as shown on the right.
Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the scalp. Sometimes a small patch develops, which can be easy to hide with hair. Scalp psoriasis also can cover the entire scalp. When psoriasis appears on the scalp, you may notice:
- Reddish patches on the scalp. Some patches are barely noticeable. Patches also can be very noticeable, thick, and inflamed.
- Dandruff-like flaking and silvery-white scale. Scalp psoriasis can look a lot like dandruff. Many people who have scalp psoriasis see flaking. But there are differences between scalp psoriasis and dandruff. Unlike dandruff, scalp psoriasis causes a silvery sheen and dry scale on the scalp.
- Dry scalp. The scalp may be so dry that the skin cracks and bleeds.
- Itching. This is one of the most common symptoms. For some the itch is mild; others have intense itching that can interfere with everyday life and cause sleepless nights.
- Bleeding. Because scalp psoriasis can be very itchy, almost everyone scratches. Scratching can make the scalp bleed. Scratching also tends to worsen the psoriasis. Scratching can make the patches larger and thicker. This is why dermatologists tell their patients, “Try not to scratch your scalp.”
- Burning sensation or soreness. The scalp can burn. It can feel extremely sore.
- Temporary hair loss. Scratching the scalp or using force to remove the scale can cause hair loss. Once the scalp psoriasis clears, hair usually re-grows.
These signs and symptoms can come and go. Some people have only one mild flare on their scalp. Others have many flare-ups, which can range from mild to serious. Many things can trigger a flare-up, including stress, cold, and dry air.
Learn more about scalp psoriasis
Images used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.