A person with hair loss holds strands of hair that have fallen out

Hair Loss, Is It A Psoriatic Arthritis Symptom?

My hair is my crown. It gets many compliments. And to be honest, I love it too! But what most people do not know is that I have been dealing with hair loss ever since my initial diagnosis of psoriasis.

I will never forget the first time a wad of hair filled my hands after washing it. Tears filled my eyes, then rolled furiously down my cheeks. Not wanting to scare my family, I sobbed in the shower. Before I had a chance to discuss it with my doctor, it stopped.

And you know how it goes, out of sight, out of mind. Until it happened again a year later!

It's not as uncommon as you may think

As it turns out, hair loss with psoriatic arthritis in women is not as uncommon as I had thought. Scalp psoriasis is typically the leading cause of losing hair but not the only one.

While distressing, hair loss resulting from scalp psoriasis most often grows back. That has been my experience, even when plaques are not visible.

Other causes of hair loss with psoriatic arthritis include scalp inflammation, damage from scratching or picking at psoriasis plaques, side effects of medications, and stress.

Physical stress has been the leading cause of my hair loss. I lose clumps of hair whenever two or more of my chronic illnesses severely flare at the same time. Being that most of mine are inflammatory illnesses, it makes sense. When PsA and my other chronic conditions are responding to treatments, I never lose clumps of hair.

Tips for management

The good news is that there are some things that we can do to prevent or decrease the amount of scalp psoriasis-related hair loss.

The first is to care for the scalp gently. Brush your hair softly, do not pull or tug. Try not to pick or scratch your plaques. And if you do feel the need to scratch at them, try keeping your nails short and rounded to avoid scraping the scalp.

Talk to your dermatologist about available treatments. One option may be using a medicated shampoo. Speaking of shampoo, wash hair often. Avoid blow-drying your hair and allow it to air dry as often as possible.

Hair loss can be the result of many factors and illnesses. If nothing you try appears to have stopped or slowed down your hair loss, discuss it with your dermatologist so they can continue searching for the cause.

What’s ahead for my head

Not all hair loss is preventable, but knowing the cause is still important. Knowing the cause of my hair loss has helped me plan for the future.

Scalp inflammation is why I cannot throw on a baseball cap on a bad hair day. It aggravates and increases the inflammation I experience throughout my skull. And as much as I love my Mickey Mouse ear headbands, I cannot wear them for consecutive days.

Because of this, I know I would never be able to tolerate wearing a wig. So if the day comes that my luscious locks cease to grow back, I will have to find a way to rock a bald head.

Have you experienced hair loss with psoriatic arthritis?

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