CIGNA members: Please note that you may receive a letter in the mail stating that The Dermatology Center of Indiana is no longer in your network. This communication from CIGNA is incorrect and we would like to reassure you that we are still in network with CIGNA. We look forward to continuing to service you and your family for all your dermatology needs.

Scalp Psoriasis or Dandruff

Dry, itchy scalp can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. If you are experiencing an uncomfortable itch on your scalp, you may either have scalp psoriasis or dandruff, two very different conditions with similar symptoms.

Dandruff, also known as seborrhea, is relatively easy to treat and isn’t considered a serious medical condition. Psoriasis is a condition without a cure and can cause extreme discomfort. Unfortunately, the symptoms are so similar that you may need to see a dermatologist for diagnosing your condition. Once you have the right diagnosis, you will be able to treat your symptoms and get the relief you need.

Dandruff is a very common skin problem that causes flaking and itching of the scalp. There are many factors that can cause dandruff, some of the main factors are a fungus called malassezia which is a yeast that thrives on the oil of your scalp. If you do not shampoo your hair enough, the buildup of oil can cause your skin to flake off and cause itching and dandruff.  Certain hair products like shampoo, gels, or even hair dyes could cause a reaction on your scalp with dandruff being the end result. Dandruff can be prevented by keeping your hair clean and your scalp dry. If you do have dandruff, it can be easily treated with a medicated shampoo and brushing your hair to keep the oil build up from accumulating.

Scalp psoriasis is very similar to dandruff but does have a few differentiating characteristics. Psoriasis is a chronic condition that is long lasting, unlike dandruff which can come and go. While dandruff has white flakes, psoriasis has the appearance of silver, scaly and even powdery patches that come off in tiny pieces instead of big flakes. Psoriasis has been linked to autoimmune disorders, this means that your autoantibodies attack healthy tissue. This makes your skin cell production speed up, causing an abnormal buildup of new skin that can collect in patches on your body, including your scalp. With this process sped up, it doesn’t give your dead skin time to shed properly, this causes the dead skin to build up which causes itching, redness, and scaling. 

Both scalp psoriasis and dandruff are uncomfortable and embarrassing conditions that have plenty of options for treatment and relief. If you’ve got flaking and itching of your scalp and aren’t sure which condition you have, or what treatment you need, please call the office nearest you to schedule a consultation with one of our dermatologists.

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussion about medical, cosmetic, mohs, and surgical dermatology. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed dermatologist or other health care worker.