Psoriasis

 

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that it is caused by overactivity of the immune system in the skin. White immune cells (leukocytes) accumulate and produce a range of chemicals, which act as if they are fighting infection or healing a wound and lead to an abnormally rapid rate of skin cell multiplication and formation of psoriasis plaques.

Newly-produced skin cells normally mature over a period of three to four weeks while travelling to the skin’s surface to be shed. However, in skin affected by psoriasis, this process is accelerated and new skin cells reach the surface within 2–6 days. The rapidly-matured new cells mix with the old cells on the skin surface resulting in raised, inflamed, scaly, red skin lesions, known as plaques, which can often be inflamed, itchy and painful.

Although psoriasis most commonly appears on the scalp, knees, elbows, lower back, hands and feet, it can in fact develop anywhere on the skin, including genital areas, fingernails and toenails. Plaques can range in appearance, with a variety of shapes and sizes from a few millimetres to several centimetres in diameter. The most common form of psoriasis is chronic stable plaque psoriasis (also known as psoriasis vulgaris), and it affects 85–90% of people with psoriasis. About 30–50% of people with psoriasis also get painful, stiff and inflamed joints. This is called psoriatic arthritis and most often affects the hands, feet, wrists, ankles and lower back.

Psoriasis can affect anyone, of any race or age, although it most frequently starts in young adults. Once a person develops psoriasis it usually continues throughout their life, although it may get better or worse and even disappear for periods of time.

Research has shown that when one parent is affected by the disease, there is a 16% chance that their children will develop psoriasis, and a 50% chance when both parents have psoriasis.

Symptoms of psoriasis

Symptoms of psoriasis may include;

  • Red scaly patches on scalp, elbows, knees or other parts of the body
  • Itchiness, however many people don't feel itchy at all
  • Shedding of scales of skin

 

Types of psoriasis

  • Plaque psoriasis – the most common form
  • Pustular psoriasis – a more severe form of psoriasis that can be painful
  • Guttate psoriasis – found mostly in children
  • Napkin psoriasis – characteristically seen in infants between two and eight months of age
  • Flexural psoriasis – affects body folds and genital areas
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis – a severe form requiring hospitalisation.

 

Psoriasis can cause arthritis

For an unknown reason, psoriasis can cause a form of arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms include;

  • Discomfort, throbbing or swelling in one or many joints
  • Tenderness in any joint
  • Pain caused by inflammation in the joints which stimulates nerve endings.

The joints which are most likely to be affected are the last joint in the fingers or toes, the lower back, wrists, knees or ankles.

Causes of psoriasis

A number of genes have been associated with different types of psoriasis. If psoriasis runs in your family, you are more likely to be affected. Infections and certain medications (lithium, beta blockers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and antimalarial medication) can trigger the onset of psoriasis or cause it to flare up.

Treatment of psoriasis

Doctors may prescribe a range of treatments for the relief of psoriasis symptoms including:

  • Coal tar preparations, cortisone and other prescription creams
  • Medications such as methotrexate, neotigason, cyclosporin and calcipotriol
  • Ultraviolet light therapy.

 

If you want to try a Natural approach to treating your Psoriasis......there are a few things you can do each day to help reduce the severity of your symptoms:

  • Take a good quality daily Probiotic

     › as we mentioned above, psoriasis and dandruff can be caused by an overworked immune system. So a probiotic is essential in maintaining the good bacteria in your body

  • Maintain a healthy, well balanced diet:

     › eating foods that benefit your skin, like Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel, Ground linseeds, flaxseed oil

     › add at least one of the following foods to your diet each day, which have anti-fungal properties - Garlic, Onions, Avocado, Basil, Radishes

     › Horseradish and Ginger have antiseptic properties, and are very good for your immune system

  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Enjoy some regular exercise, this helps to regulate your system and your skin will appreciate a bit of sunshine being outdoors too! 
  • If you are a smoker, try to either cut back on your smoking, or even better . . quit!
  • Reduce your stress levels. Try to avoid stressful situations, although that is easier said than done. If you have a stressful job, then exercise before or after work may benefit you.


 If after 3 weeks you don't see any results of your psoriasis improving, you may need to consider taking additional supplements, like Omega-3 Fish Oil tablets and B Vitamins. You may also want to check with your local Health Food Store that you are taking the most suitable Probiotic for you and your needs. There are many different probiotics on the market now, so you want to be sure you are taking the best quality supplement for your dietary needs. Also, check which shampoo & conditioner you are using, as it is often the harsh chemicals in some haircare products that can irritate sensitive skin. Our 'Dandruff Defence' Shampoo & Conditioner pack is a good quality natural haircare pack for sensitive scalps.

 

 

 

Where else you can get help:

  • Your doctor - although he will probably just refer you to a specialist
  • Your local hospital - may have a dermatologist working on-site who you can arrange an appointment with
  • A specialist dermatologist - if you go to the 'treatment' section on our website there are links to skin specialists in your area.
  • Psoriasis Australia Inc. - if you are interested in being involved in clinical trials, they have more info on their website.

 

 

 

 

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