I have seen more psoriasis in the past 6-7 years than in the past 20 years, not to mention all the phone calls or emails I have received with questions regarding this skin condition. The questions are generally about the cause and how to correct or manage the symptoms.
I think an understanding or information of what psoriasis is and how it is manifested is the best place to start.
There are actually several types of psoriasis, the under lying problem of all is the over production of the epidermal (top layer) of skin cells.
Normal skin cells mature between 21 to 28 days cycle, those with psoriasis skin cells race through the cycle in 3-4 days. This causes the cells to build up layers causing the skin to thicken, crack or scale. At the same time newer immature cells continue creating a cutaneous logjam where the epidermal cells pile up. The epidermis may become five to ten times thicker than normal. Most likely new blood vessels will form to supply blood to the lesions which cause the plaque to appear red and inflamed.Psoriasis most often effects the elbows, knees, scalp, back and buttocks, in worse cases all over. It generally follows a pattern of periodic flare ups alternating with periods of remission, and often begins between the ages of 15 and 25.The cause is not known, however research suggests it may be a result of inadequately utilizing fat in the body system. Most recent studies indicate that psoriasis is linked to the immune system or stress on the immune system. Psoriasis is rare in countries with diets low in fats.
Symptoms may include:
- Itchy skin
- Raised skin lesions
- Blisters oozing
- Deep pink with red border silvery scales
- Pitted or thicken fingernails or toenails
It may be triggered by stress, illness, surgery, viral or bacterial, infection, sun burn, alcohol and some medications such as lithium or beta blockers.
Psoriasis Treatment and Management:
It’s best to start with one’s diet; food is our medicine and communicate to our body. Research has proven diet has a great impact on psoriasis manifestation. I recommend eliminating all gluten (wheat) first and dairy if possible. Gluten and Dairy often go hand in hand in causing issue with the system. I then recommend an elimination diet or Mediterranean diet, avoiding citrus fruits, processed foods, and sugar. Eat fresh and organic vegetables including some raw as often as possible.
An anti-inflammatory may be recommended depending on the severity. I recommend supplements to boost the immune system which likely will include a multi-vitamin and mineral, omega-3 and 6, probiotics and a digestive agent is often helpful.
Vitamin D has proven helpful especially Dovonex, an activated vitamin D ointment. Herbs, such as Red Clover and Burdock are excellent for cleaning the blood which aids in managing the skin.
Phototherapy (ultraviolet light therapy) may help temporally. Regular exercise is highly recommend showing after. Some medications are available such as cortisone cream or steroids which only mask the issue and temporally easing the situation at the time. Anthralin, a medication used in tandem with UV light has proven helpful but only removes the scales and skin debris which can be itchy. Clobex, another medication is common, and Pine tar soap for shampooing which can be found at Trader Joes.
At the clinic, we have a restorative cream with neem, which eases and helps manage the condition. It needs to be applied in the morning and evening for best results.
Sea salt baths are highly recommend as they remineralize and nourish the skin from the outside in. A loofah brush or mitt can help slough off the scales so the skin can breathe, eliminating some redness and swelling.
Psoriasis is not contagious, it can be uncomfortable and extremely irritating. There are numerous options and alternatives, each case is different and should be individualized as such. I’ll keep you posted as more research provides additional information.
If you have any questions please feel free to call ~