I was diagnosed with scalp Psoriasis about 6 years ago. I was technically diagnosed with Sebopsoriasis, which is defined as a condition that is the overlap of psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis where symptoms of both conditions are present.
Psoriasis is defined as a skin disorder that causes skin cells to multiply up to 10 times faster than normal, making skin build up into bumpy patches covered with scales. They can grow anywhere, but appear most on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back.
Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition that is mostly located in oily areas such as the scalp or face. The symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis can vary and depend on what area of the body is affected.
My Sebopsoriasis shows up as:
Itchy, dry patches
Bumpy patches covered with scales
A common misconception about psoriasis is that it's contagious. I had this misconception when I was first diagnosed, having lived with someone who had been diagnosed with psoriasis sometime before me. Fact: Psoriasis can't be passed from person to person.
What causes Psoriasis?
Doctors have mentioned that Psoriasis can appear (at any stage of life) for a number of reasons, including stress and family history of the disease. Also, a triggering event may cause a change in the immune system, resulting in the onset of psoriasis symptoms. Common triggers include stress, illness, injury to the skin and certain medications.
I didn't feel abnormally stressed at the time I was diagnosed with Psoriasis, nor did I have a family history of the disease. No one in my immediate family was ever diagnosed, so for a while, I racked my brain trying to figure out how this happened to me.
I wasn't super upset or depressed, but I was a little sad and disappointed. As stated before, my Sebopsoriasis shows up as any combination of itchy, dry patches, flaky scalp, and bumpy patches covered with scales.
Before learning about my diagnosis, oftentimes my scalp would be full of "dandruff," even if it wasn't visible to others. I remember scratching, combing, or even touching my hair/scalp and finding flakes falling all over my shirt. It was unsettling and a little embarrassing.
My Sebopsoriasis took it up a notch and I developed psoriasis plaques on my hairline. Psoriasis plaques appear as raised, inflamed and scaly patches of skin that may be itchy and painful.
Prior to this, I thought I suffered from severe dandruff. I used anti-dandruff shampoo religiously and hoped for the best.
The raised and scaly patches on my hairline were noticeable. On my skin and skin of color, plaques may appear darker and thicker. Due to the darkness of mine, I'd receive questions about the plaques. Many people thought I'd been burned with a hot comb or similar utensil.
I became insecure about my psoriasis and lost confidence and motivation in styling my hair. I was insecure about the flakes and the new bumpy patches. The questions made me even more insecure. When I told people no, I wasn't burned, they'd simply ask what was going on with the affected area, and I would admit defeat and say I had no clue. And I didn't.
It was horrible in the beginning, to have my body go through noticeable issues I had no idea existed and had no education about. I had yet to see a professional but quickly sought one out. I was out of ideas, exhausted with shampoos that didn't work, and embarrassed to be seen in public with my new textured skin.
When I was first diagnosed with Sebopsoriasis, I had regular appointments with my dermatologist to receive treatment, which aims to remove scales and stop skin cells from growing so quickly. Topical ointments, light therapy, and medications are typical treatments that can offer relief. I was prescribed medicated shampoo, topical ointments/creams, and Cortisone injections which were the absolute worst.
The shampoo, ointment, and cream proved to be effective after the initial use. The medication calmed my psoriasis, eased my itching, flakes, and removed the plaques on my hairline. I received the cortisone injections during my monthly visits. The injections were to help relieve inflammation in my scalp. The injections were administered as multiple shots to the head and they hurt like hell.
Over time, I learned there is no cure for sebopsoriasis, psoriasis, or seborrheic dermatitis. A dermatologist can prescribe treatment to manage the symptoms, but that's about it.
The medications prescribed to me seemed to become less and less effective, and were not getting any cheaper, nor were the shots getting any less painful, so I stopped buying the medication and eventually stopped visiting the dermatologist altogether, determined to find a less costly and less painful remedy for my condition.
A year or so passed and my flare ups were becoming intolerable so I sought out a new dermatologist. After my first visit, I was prescribed medicated shampoo, and topical ointments/creams again. Over time, I had the recurring feeling that the medications weren't helping calm my psoriasis. The effort it took to use them routinely and the money it took to get them became less worth it. I was becoming more desperate to move away from medications and find natural oils and products to use to aid in my condition.
I recently discovered a new hair stylist, who recommended Head & Shoulders Royal Oils for my psoriasis. I went through my spiel about my experience with dermatologists and medications prescribed. My stylist suggested that the medicated shampoos and creams could be too harsh for my hair and insisted I try the Royal Oils collection, which is essentially Head & Shoulders for black hair.
Why not give it a try? I tried other things in the past, but none specifically for black hair, which is honestly a selling point for me. Additionally, I've learned that my psoriasis worsens and flares up more during colder months and with fall and winter coming, I need something to keep the flakes at bay.
It's a fact that psoriasis is triggered by cold weather. The cold, dry air can worsen the symptoms of psoriasis because cold weather usually brings drier air, which can increase the skin’s dryness.
Head & Shoulders markets the collection as Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, Conditioner and Treatments for Black, Textured and Curly Hair.
"Developed specifically for black hair by a team of black scientists, this breakthrough lineup provides expertly designed scalp relief and luxuriously moisturized hair for all natural, relaxed, kinky and coily crowns. Healthier scalp, healthier hair in just 3 weeks."
Their website features the collection, with in-depth descriptions on the products, pictures, and even blog posts related to black hair - more selling points.
I've tried Head & Shoulders before but not the Royal Oils collection. Honestly, I didn't even know the collection existed but I'm excited to use the products for multiple reasons now. I bought the shampoo, conditioner, and scalp elixir.
There are a number of other products in the collection including the Pre-Shampoo Buildup Remover, Root Rinse, and Hair Milk I want to try. I love the smell of my products, they're infused with coconut oil. After my first wash, my hair felt great and the itching and flakes were put to rest. The website said healthier scalp and hair in just 3 weeks so I'll give another update then but so far so good.
Based on my first use, I recommend Royal Oils products if you struggle with itchy, dry scalp. There are a number of products to try and I'm hoping they smell just as good as the ones I tried. As I mentioned before, the site shares scalp advice articles so I also recommend it as a source of information. I'm always looking for products made for us, by us. I love discovering new (black) sources of information.
The Battle Continues
My Sebopsoriasis is still a point of insecurity for me, especially during a flare up. During my flare ups is when I think my dry, flaky scalp is most noticeable, and I try my best to hide it. During these times, I'm very aware of my hair. I think of the style, if much of my scalp is exposed in the style. Sometimes I change styles midweek to continue to hide the psoriasis. I think of my flakes. I check my shirt multiple times a day to make sure no flakes have fallen. I look in a mirror every chance I get just to make sure my flakes aren't noticeable and to check if I have psoriasis plaques on my hairline.
It's an ongoing struggle, one I'll unfortunately deal with forever. I know these new products won't rid me of psoriasis. That's not the end goal. My hope is to manage flare ups, to experience less itching and less flakes, especially during the winter months, where flare ups are the worst.
Any experience with sebopsoriasis, psoriasis, or seborrheic dermatitis? I'm 100% open to suggestions for treating these conditions so please share product recommendations, or any tips/tricks to try.