Psoriasis Pattern Baldness
Most of the older generation of men in my family on my dad’s side have either receding hairlines or a nice big bald patch on the back of their head. I’ve always heard that your hair will take after your mother’s father, so I felt like I was in the clear since he has a pretty good head of hair. I have a curly mop on top of my head, and although I’m not crazy about it, I don’t want to lose it either. Male pattern baldness was a big fear of mine.
Recently, I have had to face this fear head (no pun intended—ok maybe a little) on. My psoriasis symptoms have been coming back with a vengeance, and the focus has been primarily on my scalp. Nearly half of my head is covered with very thick, white scales that reach from the crown, up to my forehead. Since my hair is so thick, I didn’t realize how bad it was until my wife recently took some pictures. Another jarring thing I noticed from those pictures is that my hair was looking unusually thin. I have noticed an uptick in shower drain hair, but I was quick to blame it on my wife. Turns out it was mine.
My first thought was to just cover it up with a hat. Since I have learned from the past that ignoring my psoriasis makes it magically disappear (insert sarcastic tone here), I figured, why not? Unsurprisingly, this made the problem worse. Not only did the rubbing of the hat make my scalp angrier and scarier, it also caused the start of a fungal infection. I often run in and out of my truck for work. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so seven times out of ten, I am encountering rain at my stops. The combination of rain and sweat from busting my behind getting from stop to stop left me with a wet head. The hat was the perfect insulator to keep my scalp wet and warm—the perfect breeding ground for fungus. Furthermore, I was depriving my scalp the opportunity to be exposed to the fleeting natural sunshine.
My second line of defense was a little more thought out (thankfully!) When my kids were young, they had cradle cap really bad. I remember taking my middle child to get his first haircut, and the stylist pointed out the hair growing in the area of the cradle cap would come out easily. She explained that it was because the hair follicles were being suffocated, so they stopped growing. I’m not a professional, but I do feel this is what is happening with my own scalp. Unfortunately, I am not as cute as a 18-month-old, so it will be hard to pull off the half-bald look.
Because of this, I always take the same approach I did with my kiddo’s scalp. Although cradle cap and psoriasis are very different, relief can be found from similar treatments. What we always did for our kids was to use a cooking oil spray (our favorite was coconut oil) and spray that on the scalp and let it sit for an hour. I could have used oil that wasn’t in spray form, but I have always found the sprays were easier to apply and worked slightly better. Then I would VERY gently use a soft bristled brush to comb in the direction away from my forehead to remove the buildup. It’s important to not do this too rough, as it could irritate the scalp more.
I will admit that the last few weeks have been traumatic. I know that sounds a little on the dramatic side, but failing a medication is hard enough to cope with, add hair loss into the mix and it can feel like a real kick in the shins. The one thing I have been trying to keep in mind, is that all of the research I have done, and from talking to others that have gone through the same thing, shows that it is highly likely that my hair will grow back normally after my skin heals. It feels more bearable to remember that although this disease is lifelong, they symptoms aren’t all necessarily going to be.