Q: I have had psoriasis on my scalp for 8 years. My wife has always been very supportive, even helping massage my treatments into my scalp. But, in the past few months, she has started complaining about my constant scratching. Although she knows the scratching relieves the itch, she seems to tolerate it much less than before. The tension is mounting and I’m afraid this can lead to more problems down the road.
A: Psoriasis can be difficult on both spouses. Constant itching (or pruritus) can be ‘irritating’ to both the patient and their spouse – it is not an easy condition to live with. Keep the lines of communication open and try some of the following tips:
Keep your scalp cool; warmth tends to make pruritus worse; Ice packs may also provide some relief
Keep your scalp moisturized with a light emollient, such as Sarna-P an effective anti-itch cream, as dry skin tends to be more pruritic
Physicians have been using tar for decades to treat psoriasis. For more effective penetration, make sure you leave the shampoo in contact with your scalp for 5 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. A nice-smelling, all-in-one preparation such as Polytar AF contains soothing menthol to relieve itching, salicylic acid to dissolve scales, and hair conditioners to leave hair soft and manageable.
Although scratching relieves the itch, it is important to avoid any scratching or scraping as this can lead to infection. To make matters worse, aggressive scratching can trigger the formation of new psoriatic plaques while worsening the existing lesion.
If the pruritus continues to be a source of tension, this should be discussed with your physician or your pharmacist.