Psoriasis is a frustrating and painful condition that’s often misunderstood. Although the itchy, scaly skin it causes may look unsightly, it’s not contagious and you can’t catch it from another person. In fact, scientists aren’t sure exactly what causes it — however, evidence suggests that it’s linked to an overactive immune system.
People who have psoriasis often experience “flare-ups,” where their symptoms become more severe. This typically happens during times of stress or illness. Regardless of how your psoriasis manifests, there are treatments available to help you manage the condition. Here are some tips to help you get some relief from your psoriasis symptoms.
Psoriasis plaques can be incredibly itchy, and although you may be tempted to scratch or pick the scales off, you should avoid doing this at all costs. This is because psoriasis is linked to the Koebner Phenomenon, a condition that causes previously healthy skin to become psoriatic when damaged. If your psoriasis is particularly itchy, consider using a moisturizer that contains vitamin A. Vitamin A has anti-inflammatory properties and can help to soothe your skin. You could also draw yourself a warm bath, and use a natural alternative such as oat milk to soften your plaques and reduce the itching.
Having psoriasis is stressful, and high-stress levels are frequently linked to psoriasis flare-ups. This can leave people living with psoriasis in a vicious circle of continuous stress — and can seriously affect their quality of life. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, approximately 24% of patients with moderate to severe psoriasis report depression. Because stress causes inflammation in the body, it’s crucial to try and limit your stress levels as much as possible. Consider taking up a hobby that can help you relax, such as yoga or meditation. You should also try to practice mindfulness as much as you can, and keep a diary if your psoriasis symptoms and flare-ups. This can help you to determine what may be causing them.
One tried and tested method that medical professionals have used for many years to treat Psoriasis is UV therapy. Because psoriasis skin cells multiply at a much faster rate than healthy skin, direct sunlight can improve the condition tremendously as ultraviolet light actually slows down skin cell growth. If you have psoriasis, getting out into the sun for a few days a week could help to keep your flare-ups under control; however, it’s important to remember that too much sun is also dangerous. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of UV exposure with your doctor, especially if you have skin that is at high risk for burning. To protect yourself from sunburn and its dangerous effects, you should limit your sun exposure and wear sunscreen every day.
Changing your diet is one of the easiest and most effective ways to minimize psoraisis symptoms. The most important tip is to avoid foods that often lead to inflammation. The way the body responds to inflammation can often lead to flare-ups. Here are some foods to avoid:
- Red Meat
- Wheat / Gluten
- Processed Foods (high in sugar, salt and fat)
Like most auto-immune diseases, the effects of psoriasis vary wildly between patients. This also means that the most effective treatment for one person may not work for another. Research into psoriasis and other auto-immune diseases is continually evolving, and new treatments are becoming available all of the time. For example, biologic medicines are currently at the cutting-edge of psoriasis treatment options and are giving sufferers of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis respite from their symptoms. Biologic drugs work by decreasing the immune system response, and reducing inflammation. Popular biologic drugs include; Humira, Enbrel, Cyltezo, Taltz and Siliq.
It’s important to remember that treating psoriasis is often a case of trial and error, and it may take several different drugs, or a combination of them, before you find the combination that meets your needs.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21396563, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3225141/, https://www.psoriasis.org/sites/default/files/life-with-psoriasis/PsoriasisandMentalHealthIssueBriefonepager20140225.pdf, https://www.medicinenet.com/biologics_biologic_drug_class/article.htm