What Is Scalp Psoriasis? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

GoodRx / Maryann Mikhail, MD

Scalp psoriasis is a common skin problem that can be easily mistaken for dandruff. While they sometimes look alike, there are some important differences. Psoriasis is harder to treat and can have effects in the body internally. The good news is, nobody has to suffer with psoriasis. Thanks to science and research, there are many treatment options that work well.

What are the symptoms of scalp psoriasis?

Scalp psoriasis affects almost half of people with psoriasis. Similar to psoriasis on the body, scalp psoriasis looks like red scaly plaques that can be flaky and itchy. Unlike dandruff that looks greasy and yellow, the scale of psoriasis is silvery and dry. If you pick at it, you might see bleeding. The plaques can extend beyond the hairline. Some people notice hair loss or thinning where the psoriasis is. 

About 20% to 30% of people with psoriasis get psoriatic arthritis. It causes pain, soreness, and stiffness in the joints as well as where tendons and ligaments connect to bones. People who have scalp psoriasis have almost 4 times the risk of getting arthritis as those who don’t. 

Psoriasis is also linked to cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. This includes conditions like:

The more severe your psoriasis is, the higher your risk

People with psoriasis might be more prone to certain cancersinflammatory bowel disease, and anxiety and depression

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