Thinning Hair and Itchy Scalp

… Continued …

Psoriasis

It is long-lasting, chronic skin condition of scaling and inflammation. Though it is a skin disease, but the effect can be systemic. Sometimes the disease can also cause symptoms that have nothing to do with the skin.

Psoriasis can affect scalp, too. The affected scalp can be so itchy, red, and with silvery-white scales. The scaly, red areas can become advanced and often extend beyond the hairline.

psoriasis-scalp

*Credit to WebMD

The itchy, silvery-white scales of psoriasis can be embarrassing and very bothersome. If you scratch it, you may find flakes of dead skin cells on the shoulders or hair. And there is a chance for the problem to trigger more hair follicles to fall out, too.

Experts know that psoriasis affects the normal life cycle of skin cells. If you have psoriasis, your skin cells can be rapidly produced. As a result, there will be lots of new skin cells that go up on the surface of the skin.

These extra new skin cells accumulate and cause thick, silvery scales that are dry, itchy, and painful. But experts don’t know the answer that triggers this change. Some studies suggest that the abnormality of immune system may be the answer.

There are a number of different treatments for psoriasis. Bu the major goals are to help:

  1. Stop and prevent skin cells from growing too fast, which ease inflammation and reduce plaque formation. Since overactive immune system is thought as the main underlying cause, many treatments for psoriasis are designed to help suppress the immune system.
  2. Get rid of scales, and smooth the skin afterward.

These include topical treatments (such as the use of corticosteroids, anthralin, retinoids, coal tar, salicylic acid, synthetic forms of vitamin D ‘vitamin D analogues’, calcineurin inhibitors, and moisturizer) – phototherapy (such as UVB phototherapy, excimer laser, and goeckerman therapy) – and injected /oral treatments (such as methotrexate, retinoids, and cyclosporine).

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is itchy, red rash triggered by something that comes into contact with your skin. In other words, it is sensitivity to a substance that causes skin irritation.

It can occur anywhere, typically on areas that have a direct contact to an irritant substance that can vary from person to person.

It can occur on the scalp, too. The affected scalp can be red, tender, flaky, or /and itchy. Hair loss or thinning of hair can occur if you scratch it a lot!

Again, it is caused by a substance ‘something’ you’re exposed to that causes an allergic reaction or irritates the skin. This substance can vary. It can be one of thousands of ‘known & unknown’ irritants or allergens.

For instance, if you have contact dermatitis on the scalp, the irritant substances may come from your hair products. But again this varies!

The severity of the problem is dependent on some factors, such as:

  1. The strength of the substance that triggers the irritation.
  2. How long your scalp /skin is exposed.
  3. Genetic factor. The way of how the skin responds to certain substances can vary from person to person.
  4. Some environmental factors have an effect, too – such as ambient temperature and airflow.

The best treatment to stop the allergic reaction is by avoiding a substance you’re sensitive to! And avoid scratching the affected scalp, otherwise the problem will get worse and make your scalp itch more.

Some treatments are also available to ease and improve the problem more quickly. These include the use of steroid cream, or corticosteroids (taken by mouth) in severe cases!

What else?
scalp_ringworm_itchy_thinning_hair
* Scalp ringworm picture, credit to Mayo
Thinning hair and itchy scalp may also be associated with the following factors /conditions:

  1. Scalp ringworm, a fungal infection that affects scalp and hair shafts. It can lead to round patches that grow larger slowly, covering more areas on the scalp! The bald-looking patches can also be quite itchy.
  2. Lupus, an inflammatory condition associated with the abnormality of immune system function. Itchy scalp can be one of the symptoms. The effect of this autoimmune disorder can be systemic, and therefore sometimes it affects the scalp, too.
  3. Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), a condition of when thyroid glands work poorly. As a result, hormones produced by these glands don’t meet to the body needs. This causes some complications, and hair loss can be one of the symptoms. A few people with hypothyroidism experience hair loss, and their scalp is also quite itchy.
  4. The side effect of particular medications.
Article sources:

  1. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Dandruff/Pages/Treatment.aspx
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/folliculitis/basics/definition/con-20025909
  3. http://www.americanhairloss.org/types_of_hair_loss/alopecia_areata.asp
  4. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Psoriasis/
  5. https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/a—d/contact-dermatitis