Psoriasis can affect your scalp as well as your body. For World Psoriasis Week (October 29-November 4), we speak to Dr Alia Ahmed, a consultant dermatologist working for Frimley and Barts Health NHS Trust ,who has eight tips for sufferers of scalp psoriasis.
1) Avoid irritating your scalp psoriasis
Try to avoid picking or scratching the psoriasis plaques as this can cause further issues such as bleeding or infection. Also try your best to be as gentle as possible when brushing or combing your hair.
2) Talk to your hairdresser
A common problem for my patients living with scalp psoriasis is feeling anxious about visits to the hairdressers. Try and take control of the situation by calling up in advance and letting your hairdresser know. For example, you might like to bring your own shampoo, or be seated somewhere quieter in the salon. It’s important you’re not afraid to request what works best for you, and it’s very likely your hairdresser has seen it all before!
3) Get sufficient sleep
Research has shown that decreased sleep quality is associated with wider health implications. Psoriasis can be itchy and I have some patients in a cycle where this impacts their sleep and they are then exhausted during the day with high stress levels, which can cause their psoriasis to get worse. Where possible, try a night-time routine that involves using your scalp treatments so that you have a restful night’s sleep.
4) Live a healthy lifestyle
Eating well, exercising and avoiding smoking are all factors we can manage. Your diet and exercise can impact on your psoriasis, so try to control them and live as healthy as possible.
5) Track your condition
I always recommend that my patients keep a diary of their psoriasis by tracking their flare ups across each month so they have this information to hand.
6) Talk to your doctor about the impact scalp psoriasis has on your wellbeing
People are often reluctant to get a consultation booked in, but we can only help you if we fully understand the impact it is having on your day-to-day life. Make an appointment if you need support.
7) Be prepared when visiting the GP
When you have booked in an appointment with your GP to discuss scalp psoriasis, it’s important to take time to prepare. Figure out the questions you want to cover during the time. Take a notepad and checklist so you make sure to cover everything you want to.
8) Be ready for virtual
In the current climate, virtual appointments are becoming more and more common. Just because these appointments are not face to face does not mean they should be shorter or less valuable. They should be the same amount of time as an in-person consultation and should never feel rushed.
Find out more about scalp psoriasis
Heads Up to Psoriasis is a campaign in partnership with Psoriasis Association, and the Lions Barber Collective that is aiming to both raise awareness and to empower people living with scalp psoriasis to have more open conversations about their condition – both in their everyday lives, and with their healthcare professional – so that they can gain the support they need to live their truth, and cope with their condition.
- Research shows that prior to Covid-19 restrictions, two thirds of people with scalp psoriasis had deliberately postponed or avoided appointments with their barber or hairdresser.
- Anxiety around other people’s misconceptions of the condition also meant that 40% of people felt uncomfortable discussing their scalp psoriasis with their hairdresser.
- The survey also revealed a breakdown in communication between scalp psoriasis patients and GPs, with 60% failing to visit their GP regularly and 45% feeling that previous discussions with their GP about their condition were unhelpful.
For more expert tips, as well as insights from those living with scalp psoriasis, click here