It is quite easy to treat dandruff (seborrhea), and it’s not a severe medical condition. Psoriasis, however, is a different issue. It is a chronic skin problem without a permanent cure and one that can cause a great deal of discomfort.
How it develops: Dandruff vs. Psoriasis
Dandruff is a disorder that causes flakes of dry skin to appear on the scalp. The flakes can generally cascade from your hair and come to rest on your shoulders.
Dandruff commonly begins from a dry scalp. Frequent shampooing or using many chemicals on your hair can sometimes irritate your scalp and lead to flakes.
A common condition called seborrheic dermatitis is the cause of many dandruff cases. It causes patches of red and oily skin that leave yellowish flakes on the scalp. These flakes are often more prominent than the dandruff flakes that arise from dry skin.
Seborrheic dermatitis can also cause flaky, irritated patches elsewhere on the body.
Psoriasis is a problem rooted in your immune system. It is an autoimmune disease, where unique proteins, called autoantibodies, attack healthy tissue. This attack causes skin cell production to speed up. It then creates an unhealthy and abnormal growth of new skin that collects in dry, flaky patches on your body, including the scalp.
The normal process of skin regeneration is you shed dead skin in small, thin fragments from the outermost layer of skin. No one, not even yourself, can see that you are losing dead skin. New, healthy skin cells are developing beneath the surface of your skin and, in a few weeks, push up to the surface to take the place of the dead skin.
If you have psoriasis, that action speeds up in various spots on your body, and there is no time for the dead skin to go through its normal shedding. That causes dead skin cells to build upon the surface. It usually occurs on the scalp, elbows, knees, and back.
Psoriasis can take different forms. Sometimes, your skin may look cracked and dry. Other times, it may look red and dotted with small silvery patches.
Prevention: Dandruff vs. Psoriasis
You can easily stop dandruff. Dandruff shampoo is usually adequate to prevent dandruff from producing. Generally, keeping your hair clean is a must.
Oil and dirt can accumulate on your scalp and make it dry. Brushing your hair away from the scalp also helps keep grease from building up on your scalp.
On the contrary, there is no way to prevent psoriasis. It can develop in anyone at any age but is less frequent in kids. It frequently appears between the ages of 15 and 35, but it can develop at any age.
Treatment: Dandruff vs. Psoriasis
You can treat dandruff with medicated shampoo. You may have to switch shampoos, too, as one may become less effective over time.
You may treat psoriasis with topical lotions and medications. Many of these contain steroids, which only serve to make the symptoms somewhat milder. There’s no actual cure.
Light therapy can also help treat the symptoms of psoriasis.
When to See a Doctor: Dandruff vs. Psoriasis
If your dandruff doesn’t go away or doesn’t get better after two weeks of anti-dandruff shampoo, you may need to see a dermatologist. There are prescription dandruff shampoos that may have the strength you need to overcome the problem. You may also require a medicated ointment.
On the other hand, if your symptoms indicate psoriasis, you should see a dermatologist right away. If you also have stiff or swollen joints, you may have psoriatic arthritis. See a rheumatologist.