Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that affects both the skin and joints of victims. For many, it's particularly frustrating to develop psoriatic plaques on their scalp, especially with the itching and flaking skin that resembles dandruff.
Fortunately, there are some good ways to get the problem under control. No one cure is right for everyone, so you may need to experiment a little. Here are some things that you can try.
Concentrate on Relieving the Itching First
Itching is problematic not only because of the discomfort it causes but because scratching further irritates the skin. Even the slightest trauma to a psoriatic arthritis sufferer's skin can cause the plaques to get larger and thicker.
To get rid of the itch, there several different remedies available:
- Medicated shampoo, particularly those with salicylic acid or ketoconazole. Neutrogena, a brand that is heavily-favored by dermatologists for its noncomedogenic properties, has several over-the-counter products like this available.
- Coal tar shampoo, which naturally contains benzene and naphthalene, and is available by several brands, including one known as Psoriatrax, which is specifically marketed toward suffers who have psoriatic plaques on their scalps.
- Tea tree oil, which is used for a variety of skin ailments and can be rubbed directly on the scalp. The only caution here is that it has a rather strong smell that not everyone likes, so experiment with a small bottle before you make a big investment.
- A mixture of apple cider vinegar and water, in equal parts, is an old home remedy for an itchy scalp. Avoid this method, however, if you spot any cracked and bleeding areas.
All of these can be used with or without topical steroid creams, which can be provided by your dermatologist after a consultation. In fact, the shampoos and apple cider vinegar all help make the topical steroids more effective by softening plaques and allowing the steroid creams to be better absorbed.
Work to Reduce Inflammation Whenever Possible
You may need to invest in a few other things in order to really get the psoriatic plaques on your scalp under control, including your own mental health! Psoriatic arthritis can flare if you are stressed out or overly tired, so do what you can to eat right and sleep well. It may mean cutting back on your schedule from time to time or simply disconnecting from the world a little in order to mentally regroup.
In addition, you can talk to your doctor about various medications that are designed to reduce both inflammation and skin plaques. There are new non-steroidal drugs available on the market these days that suppress the overactive immune systems that cause psoriatic arthritis to flare. Biologics like Humira and Cosentyx help stop the progression of the disease altogether. Oral medication, like Otezla, is designed to do the same.
Your skin is one of the most important barriers you have against infection and disease, and it can't do its job of protecting you if you have spots that are cracked and bleeding. If you're having trouble getting the plaques under control, consider contacting a company like Heibel Dermatology today.