Psoriasis is more than a skin condition and can impact people both physically and emotionally. It affects around 1.8 million people in the UK with more than half having psoriasis on their scalp. The condition can appear as a thick build-up of scaly skin, which can cause dandruff-like flakes to fall. Scalp psoriasis can also be visible around the hairline, on the forehead, neck and behind the ears and is often itchy and painful.
In recent months we have all experienced the inconvenience of not being able to visit a hairdresser. However, findings show that prior to COVID-19 restrictions, two-thirds of people with scalp psoriasis had deliberately postponed or avoided appointments with their barber or hairdresser.
Anxiety around other people’s misconceptions of the condition also meant that 40% of people felt uncomfortable discussing their scalp psoriasis with their hairdresser. Over half (52%) of those surveyed felt that providing hairdressers and barbers with more practical training to support people who have scalp psoriasis would be beneficial.
Tom Chapman, barber and founder of the Lions Barber Collective commented: ‘Hair professionals are in a unique position to help clients, through the trust and bond we build with them. We often have incredibly strong relationships where clients become friends and can share aspects of their lives with us. I would like this position of trust to be used to help those with scalp psoriasis feel at ease with their condition, particularly considering the impact it can have on mental health, as the research shows. Partnering with the Psoriasis Association and LEO Pharma we have developed guides to help facilitate these conversations within the salon setting.’
The survey also revealed a breakdown in communication between scalp psoriasis patients and GPs, with 60% failing to visit their GP regularly and 45% feeling that previous discussions with their GP about their condition were unhelpful.
Helen McAteer, Chief Executive Officer of the Psoriasis Association, says: ‘Scalp psoriasis can be a very visible form of living with psoriasis which can cause people discomfort and sometimes leave people feeling too embarrassed or self-conscious to carry out everyday activities like visiting their hairdresser. It is important that people feel prepared and able to have helpful conversations with their GP so that they can gain the support they need to live well and not give up parts of their lives to living with a chronic skin condition.’
Dr Angelika Razzaque, GP and Executive Chair of the Primary Care Dermatology Society commented: ‘People living with psoriasis, not visiting their GP regularly regarding their psoriasis or finding discussions unhelpful is something we need to change. I would like to encourage people to book an appointment and come as prepared to talk openly about your condition with your health provider. Healthcare professionals should be offering regular holistic reviews to people with psoriasis and look beyond the skin to understand the impact psoriasis has on people’s everyday lives.’
Heads Up to Psoriasis is a partnership activity between LEO Pharma, the Psoriasis Association, and the Lions Barber Collective. Its aim is to both raise awareness and to empower people living with scalp psoriasis to have better conversations about their condition – both in their everyday lives and with their healthcare professional – so that they can gain the support they need to live well.
The partners have collaborated to produce practical materials and tips to support those living with scalp psoriasis to have better conversations with their hairdresser and healthcare professionals.
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