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Scalp Psoriasis vs. Seborrheic Dermatitis

Scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis are very similar in appearance and symptoms, and identifying the difference (and resulting treatment) is a common question of our staff. While the symptoms and some causes can be treated by shampoos, lotions or creams, active ingredients can dissimilar results; therefore it is important to understand the differences.

Scalp psoriasis is a chronic skin problem that causes skin cells to grow at a faster rate than normal, resulting in thick white, silver or red patches of skin. Under normal circumstances skin cells grow and flake off after every four weeks. However, in the case of psoriasis new skin cells grow rapidly and move to the surface of the skin in less than four weeks and form patches called plaques.

Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin which is characterized by red, dry and itchy skin. Severe cases of dermatitis can result in skin forming crusts or blisters which ooze fluid. There are different types of dermatitis and these are contact dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis and stasis dermatitis.

Causesshampoo for oily hair, dandruff, scalp psoriasis and dermatitis

Scalp psoriasis can be caused by two factors. The first factor is a genetic disorder that causes excessive growth and reproduction of skin cells. This problem results from the epidermis and its keratinocytes. The second factor is an immune disorder. In an immune response to infection the body releases T- cells which migrate to the dermis and trigger the release of cytokines in particular the tumor necrosis factor-alpha which causes skin inflammation which is coupled by increased production of skin cells.

Dermatitis can be caused by a variety of health issues among which include genetics, allergies and irritants. Contact dermatitis may be caused by skin irritants such as bath soaps, detergents, laundry soap or bleach. Dermatitis can also be caused by exposure to allergens like rubber, metals, cosmetics, fragrances and weeds.

Neurodermatitis can be caused by dry skin, persistent irritation of the skin, eczema and psoriasis. Prolonged use of steroid creams in treating atopic dermatitis can also worsen the condition of dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis is a kind of dermatitis which is caused by physical stress by actions such as travelling and neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Conditions that affect blood flow in the legs and cause varicose veins and other chronic conditions can potentially be the cause of stasis dermatitis.

Signs And Symptoms

Depending on severity of scalp psoriasis, individuals may experience physical discomfort and may experience depression and hypertension due to the impact the disease has on quality of life. Plaques in hair can be mistaken as dandruff which can be very embarrassing thus making individuals with psoriasis feel self-conscious about their appearance. This leads to self-isolation which often causes depression and other psychological problems.

Dermatitis symptoms vary depending on the type of condition. Symptoms range from skin rash, bumpy rash and blisters. Common symptoms for all types of dermatitis are itching, swelling, redness and skin blisters which ooze fluid. Dermatitis on the scalp causes dry or greasy scaling which appears as dandruff which is often coupled with hair loss. Pimples may also appear along the hairline, eyebrows, behind the ears, around the nose and on the chest.


There are many treatment options available for scalp psoriasis. In most cases topical agents are used for mild cases, phototherapy for moderate cases and systemic agents for severe cases. Topical agents include bath solutions, mineral oils and skin moisturizers. Scalp psoriasis shampoo will help alleviate symptoms and reduce effects of triggers. Reducing dryness of the skin helps reduce inflammation. Ointment creams containing coal tar, corticosteroids, desoximetasone, dithranol, fluocinonide, vitamin D3 and retinoids can be used to treat the disease.

Treatments of dermatitis are done according to the cause of the disease. On the scalp, a shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis is recommended. Creams containing corticosteroids can be used. Avoiding allergens and irritants is another alternative to treatment. Over the counter antihistamines can also be used to reduce itching and inflammation.
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