Psoriasis is a common prevailing autoimmune skin condition in the US where approximately 7.5 million Americans suffer from it. Though not fatal, psoriasis can be extremely irritating to the extent of causing extreme discomfort and even trauma. While psoriasis isn’t contagious, the most negative factor of the disease is the possibility of resurfacing even after signs of remission.
1 What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis causes thick scaly red skin affecting the epidermal layer of the skin making it dehydrated and dry. Flakiness and itchiness is a common symptom of psoriasis. The intensity of psoriasis varies from person to person depending on prevailing factors of management. In some it can be mild but in others it can appear as a severe skin condition affecting the entire body extremities such as the scalp, elbows, knees ankles, stomach and arms.
In those who are obese and overweight, friction in the extremities is a common factor worsening the disease to the extent of making it painful in which circumstances ones quality of life becomes greatly reduced.
2 Causes of Psoriasis
According to science, psoriasis could be hereditary where 10% of people could inherit one or more of the genes that put them at risk of the conditon. Those having such genes and exposed to triggers (external factors causing psoriasis) are at increased risk of contracting the disease. Weakened immunity and poor hygiene can also lead to psoriasis but somehow the real cause of the disease is still a bone of contention and a subject of ongoing research.
Triggers or causes of psoriasis
- Weakened immunity
- Mental stress, anxiety and tension
- Antimalarials like choloroquine and quinacrine
- High blood pressure and heart medication like Inderal
- Skin injuries
- Streptococcus infection where strep throat is a primary trigger of psoriasis in children
- Prolonged use of NSAIDS
- Sun exposure
- Alcohol and smoking aggravate psoriasis
- Lithium used in treatment of bipolar disorder
- Hormonal changes
3 Types of Psoriasis and how it occurs
Psoriasis occurs from heightened activity of white blood cells or lymphocytes. Inflammatory substances cause the skin cells to multiply faster than usual which reach the skin surface where they then die. The continuous activity causes a red plaque on the skin surface along with white scales which is characteristic of the condition.
Plaque psoriasis: Most common condition with red inflamed skin lesions and silver scales. Common to the knees and back.
Guttate Psoriasis: Common in young children. Appears as pinkish spots on the arms and legs.
Inverse psoriasis: Commonly found under armpits, groins, beneath the breasts, genital folds and anal area. Characterized by shiny red lesions.
Erythrodermic psoriasis: Appears as scaly red flaky skin that continues to shed. Can occur all over the body.
Pustular Psoriasis: Common to adults. Appears as red inflamed skin with pus filled blisters. Can be localized or all over the body.
4 Risk Factors of Psoriasis
Psoriasis isn’t hard to diagnose as it is an extremely visible skin condition. In severe infection, a biopsy may be required along with X-rays to gauge the extent of the disease. Those suffering with prolonged psoriasis could be linked to the risk factors and diseases below.
- Non melanoma cancer
- High lipid count
- Heart disease
- Psoriasis arthritis
Where diabetes and psoriasis is concerned both diseases cause the symptoms of the other and research has found that Psoriasis patients also invited a risk of contracting diabetes and hypertension
5 Treatment of Psoriasis
Research studies have proved that psoriasis as a skin condition can be treated with prescribed medication. However there is no immediate cure yet and medication manages and controls the disease and its symptoms. The below mentioned medications for psoriasis are indicative and generally prescribed in varying conditions of the disease.
Even if you suffer from any type of psoriasis do not take any of the medications before consulting a doctor.
- Topical lotions
- Steroidal creams
- UVB light therapy
- Prescription retinoids
- Salicylic acid
- Coal tar ointments and shampoos
- Antihistamines to relieve itching
- Vitamin D formulas which include calcipotriene and calcitriol
6 Various natural treatments for psoriasis and skin infection
Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera is a potent skin rejuvenator containing antioxidants and vitamin e. It is a proven moisturizer which is a major requirement in Psoriasis. Can be applied thrice a day.
Dead Sea Salts: Soaking the affected area in Dead Sea salts and lukewarm water for 15 minutes can remove scales and reduce itching.
Indian Lilac (neem): Neem can reduce the itching and inflammation from psoriasis. Boil neem leaves and add the solution to your bath water.
Turmeric: Turmeric has been a subject of several studies and is well known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research has also observed turmeric’s ability to alter the nature of cytokine expression or agents which trigger inflammation.
Oatmeal: A paste of oatmeal and water can soothe the inflammation and reduce itching.
Coconut oil: Coconut oil is both antifungal and anti inflammatory. It is also a good moisturizer especially for conditions of the scalp.
7 Dos and don’ts when suffering from psoriasis
- Avoid perfumed soaps and shampoos. Only used medicated or herbal soaps
- Avoid red meat, processed food, sugars, alcohol and smoking
- Consume foods rich in probiotics and eat plenty of greens like carrots and broccoli
- Consume foods rich in Vitamins A, D, C and E. Consult your doctor for supplements
- Fish contains omega 3 fatty acids beneficial for prevention of heart disease, a risk factor in psoriasis.
- Consider avoiding nightshade veggies like peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes that can irritate psoriasis
- Arthritic psoriasis may not reveal skin symptoms causing only pain. Consult your doctor immediately in such conditions.
- Wear cotton garments and avoid synthetic material
- Moisturize the affected area regularly
- A bit of sunlight daily is good for psoriasis and increasing vitamin D