It can be challenging to decipher the difference between standard-variety dry scalp, dandruff, and psoriasis. According to trichologist Eva Proudman, it's best to visit an expert for an accurate diagnosis, but there are some telltale signs to self-diagnose at-home.
For starters, if you're experiencing a scalp that feels tight and itchy with small, dry flakes of skin in the hair and your hair is dryer than normal, you most likely have a dry scalp. If you see flakes that are small white or gray scales that fall onto your clothes, but your scalp looks and feels oily, chances are you're dealing with dandruff.
Now if you've checked those two boxes off the list and you're still wondering if you have scalp psoriasis, Proudman suggests checking for circular, uniform areas of darker, redder skin that is visibly a different color from the rest of your scalp. If these patches are covered with dry, whitish-silver scales and cannot be easily removed, that is a sign of psoriasis. This is especially true if you remove the scales and see bleeding points on the scalp.
"Sufferers of scalp psoriasis report itching, tight uncomfortable scalp sensations, and often the knees and shins are also affected," Proudman says. Bottom line: Psoriasis patches are attached to the scalp (meaning they don't flake off in the same way that dry skin and dandruff might) and often raised with a rough texture. It's not flaky or loose and often has scales that aren't easy to remove.