Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune mediated skin disease that causes red/pinkish, scaly, raised plaques on the body. Lesions primarily occur on the knees, elbows and scalp but can also appear on eyelids, ears, hands and feet. Plaques may be a few small patches in one location of the body or in multiple areas at one time.
It is non-contagious and can appear at any age with peaks of onset at 15-25 years and 50-60 years. Both men, women and children can suffer from psoriasis and from any race. About one-third of people that suffer from psoriasis also have a family member with this skin condition.
Psoriasis tends to persist lifelong, fluctuating in extent and severity however there are treatment options to help control the skin disease and decrease flare-ups symptoms.
Psoriasis explained in a little more detail
Psoriasis is a condition where your T-cells can become overactive to produce other immune markers that can cause an inflammatory reaction on the skin. Normal skin cells grow and naturally shed off every four weeks. With psoriasis, skin cells continue to grow on top of older skin cells before completely shedding. This can cause plaque lesions to itch or sting underneath. Itching is mostly mild but in severe cases may lead to painful skin cracks or fissures due to scratching. When psoriatic plaques clear up, they may leave brown or pale marks that can be expected to fade over several months.
Symptoms of psoriasis vary from person to person and may include:
- Red scaly patches with thick, silvery scales which may range from a few spots to large areas
- Small scaling spots, commonly noted in children
- Dry, cracked skin which may be accompanied by bleeding
- Itching, burning, and painful lesions which may be accompanied by soreness
- Thick, ridged or discoloured nails
- Swollen joints with stiffness
Did you know there are five main types of psoriasis? And you can also suffer from more than one type of psoriasis at any one time.
Can affect any area of the face including ears, eyebrows, lips, nose and forehead. This type affects approximately one in three people suffering from psoriasis.
Affecting the hairline, scalp, back of the neck and upper forehead. Approximately 60% of people living with psoriasis.
Hands, Nails and/ Feet
Palmoplantar psoriasis (PPP) refers to psoriasis that affects the palms of the hands and/or the soles of the feet. Between 12% and 16% of people living with psoriasis have palmoplantar psoriasis.
Under the arms and breasts can also be affected by psoriasis. These areas are often irritated by rubbing and sweating.
Up to two-thirds of people with psoriasis experience genital psoriasis at some point in their lives. Genital psoriasis is quite common and can affect the skin in the genital area, as well as the inner and upper thighs.
Therefore, your treatment plan may vary depending on the type/s of psoriasis you are suffering from.
What causes Psoriasis?
While research is still underway to pinpoint the exact cause of psoriasis, the immune system and genetics play a key role. However, being a complex skin condition, you may develop psoriasis even if there is no family history of the disease. An event that triggers a change in the immune system may result in the onset of psoriasis.
These triggers will be different from person to person but may include the following:
- Illness including bacterial, viral or fungal infections
- Certain medication (such as beta blockers, lithium and antimalarials)
- Injury to the skin (i.e., sunburn, abrasions, insect bites)
- Dry skin
- Excessive alcohol
- Suddenly stopping oral steroids or strong topical corticosteroids
- Certain foods
- Vitamin deficiency
Treatment for Psoriasis
Always seek medical advice from your doctor or dermatologist to discuss treatment plan options to best suit your needs.
You may need to try a few different options or a combination at one time depending on the severity of your psoriasis and how you respond to each treatment. What works for some people may not work for others, so they may be a bit of trial and era before you find the right approach that works.
Kiri, (AMPERNA® founder and owner) also offers one on one holistic skin coaching services via the website.
The objective for treating psoriasis is to slow down skin cell growth and to remove plaque scales.
Options include creams/ointments, light therapy (phototherapy) or medication. At-home self-care measures are also advised to help reduce psoriasis symptoms. Here are five tips you can start practicing now:
Keep your skin well moisturised. Applying a moisturising cream like AMPERNA®'s Hydrating Body Lotion with Ceramides after bathing to slightly damp skin will lock in some much needed moisture. Reapply the lotion as needed throughout the day.
If you’re out and about a great option to have on hand to spray onto your skin is the NEW AMPERNA® Probiotic + SOS Daily Facial Spray.
Overnight you can apply AMPERNA®'s Probiotic+ DS Soothing Serum to the affected areas. Where you can wrap in plastic wrap followed by a compression wrap/bandage. This allows the product to set on top of the affected plaques and protects your bed sheets while you sleep. Remove in the morning, bathe/shower as normal and reapply the body lotion. Repeat this process every evening.
A humidifier is also a good option to use in your home or office to keep the air moist.
Avoid using air conditioning as this dries your skin out.
- Soak in the bath. Regular baths in lukewarm water with Epsom salts, oatmeal, milk, or olive oil can soothe itching and inflamed psoriasis plaques. Ensure the water is not too hot and you always gently pat dry your skin.
Supplements and your diet. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation fish oil, vitamin D, aloe vera, Oregon grape and milk thistle help ease mild symptoms of psoriasis. *Always consult with your doctor before taking any form of supplements to ensure they do not interfere with other health conditions.
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet is helpful for managing psoriasis symptoms. Include cold water fish, nuts and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Limit red meat, saturated fats, refined sugars and alcohol from your diet as they are known to trigger flare-ups.
Olive oil is also a great ingredient to treat scalp psoriasis, try massaging a few tablespoons directly on your scalp during your next shower.
- Avoid fragrance. Generally anything that smells too good to be true is a nightmare for sensitive skin conditions like psoriasis. Dyes and other chemicals are used in mainstream soaps, detergents and perfumes which will further irritate your skin.
Catch some rays. A controlled amount of natural sunlight can improve psoriasis, but too much sun can trigger or worsen outbreaks, so please use caution. 10-15 minutes in the sun protecting your skin that is not affected by psoriasis with a hat, clothing or sunscreen can help reduce plaques.
Light therapy (phototherapy) exposes your skin to ultraviolet light under the supervision of a doctor or dermatologist. Ultraviolet light can help slow the growth of skin cells triggered by psoriasis. Light therapy often requires consistent and frequent sessions.
Most importantly, look after your mental health
Psoriasis is a systemic skin disease that can negatively impact one’s self esteem and self-worth. The chronic itching, embarrassment and social stigmatization psoriasis sufferers endure can trigger feelings of loneliness, helplessness, anxiety and depression. Recent studies have shown psoriasis to also be linked to other mental health conditions including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. It is a profoundly serious skin condition to battle through when the psychological damage can interfere with normal daily living.
Stress can make your psoriasis condition worse so managing your stress levels is paramount when treating psoriasis. If you or a loved one is suffering from this skin disease you may need to consider counselling sessions or speaking with a psychologist. There are also support groups you can join to help you on your skin health journey. Optimising a consistent self-care routine will also be beneficial for managing stress and looking after your mental health.
As mentioned above Kiri also offers one on one holistic skin health coaching via the AMPERNA® website.
Psoriasis: Causes & Triggers: National Psoriasis Foundation
Psoriasis: Symptoms, Treatment, Images and More - DermNet (dermnetnz.org)