What is Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition of the skin which causes a build-up of skin cells; which creates a raised, red scaling on the skin.
It can appear anywhere, from the scalp, elbows, arms, knees and back.
Characterised as an autoimmune condition, there are usually triggers which cause psoriasis to flare. It develops between early adulthood (from age 15 upward) and although is not contagious, it is believed genetics has an important role to play in the development of this condition.
Psoriasis is commonly associated with other conditions including:
- Heart disease
- Anxiety/ depression / stress
Is Psoriasis the same as Lupus?
Not entirely. While both are autoimmune conditions which can create skin problems, they have different causes, with Lupus being more severe.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Psoriasis symptoms can vary but are typically identified with flaky skin or scalp.
There are 5 different types of psoriasis, and your symptoms could look different depending on the type you have.
This occurs on either a part of, or your whole scalp where your scalp has red patches covered in white or silvery scales.
Similar to plaque like psoriasis, the scaly skin may give appearance to dandruff-like flakes falling out of your hair.
It can make your scalp feel itchy, and in severe cases may cause your hair to fall out.
This is the most common type of Psoriasis – and can be a condition people face with other types.
It gets its name from the build-up of plaques, or skin cells, which can be red, itchy and sore and appear scaly.
Plaque psoriasis can occur anywhere on your body but is more likely to occur around your knees and elbows.
Named after its appearance of a tear or rain drop, Guttate psoriasis commonly occurs in children and affects the wider body.
While it may clear up itself after several weeks or months, some experience it repeatedly particularly those who suffer from Strep Throat and find it evolves into another type of psoriasis over time.
This type of psoriasis is characterised by small white or yellow pus-filled blisters. Pustular psoriasis is usually found in the palms of the hands or soles of the feet, but rarer forms can be more widespread across the body.
Skin areas which are usually covered by clothes, such as genitals, skin fold and armpits are known as Inverse or Flexural areas.
This type of psoriasis can cause red, inflamed skin and can be made worse by the friction rubbing against the patch by the opposing skin or garment worn.
What causes Psoriasis?
Problems with the Immune System
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition, and while it isn’t clear what cause the immune system to attack itself, modern science indicates reasons from genetics to environmental conditions being responsible in the cause of psoriasis.
Problems with the immune system occur when white blood cells begin to attack the healthy cells by “mistaking” them for invaders.
In the case of psoriasis, this means your T Cells (white blood cells) are attacking the skin, mistaking it for a bacteria or fungal – which results in a speed up of skin production.
It isn’t clear why this happens but keeping a healthy immune system by balancing out testosterone / estrogen levels and ensuring sufficient intake of anti-inflammatory and antioxidants may help.
Things we know which cause our immune system to stop functioning correctly include
Stress (mental and physical)
Stress results in cortisol being released into your body which begins to affect your bodys natural defences, as it enters “fight or flight” mode. Non-essential functioning is shut down – which includes your immune system, and if you are constantly living in a high stress environment or lifestyle, your immune system may suffer long term. This also creates a higher level of oxidative and inflammatory stress internally.
Poor diet (junk food)
Eating excessively, or consuming high-carb foods can be taxing on your digestive system and can result in your body spending more energy digesting food and assimilating empty calories.
Other factors which may affect your immune system include:
- Consuming alcohol or smoking
- Exposure to UV / Radiation
- Either exercising too much (oxidation) or not exercising at all
If you suffer from psoriasis, try to understand what of the above issues could be affecting your life and work to rectify the issues.
While it is considered psoriasis is not contagious, modern science indicates you may inherit the genes which can cause the development of psoriasis [source].
What Triggers Psoriasis?
Some of the issues we have identified above can be the primary triggers for psoriasis, to summarise:
- Weather changes – which can dry your skin and create a flare up as can exposure to UV or radiation
- Poor diet including junk food and consuming alcohol
- Smoking may also worsen or trigger psoriasis
- Exercising (too much) or not exercising at all
Aloe Vera gel is a cooling natural gel which could help reduce the redness, itching and inflammation caused by psoriasis.
The National Psoriasis Foundations recommends using a product with a 0.5 percent concentration of aloe, and this should be applied topically versus consuming through drink or food.
Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV may help soothe the itching from psoriasis – particularly for the scalp. Diluting apple cider vinegar with water can help reduce the burning sensation you may experience applying ACV directly to the area.
It is not recommended to apply this vinegar to broken skin as it may result in stinging, burning and create a flareup.
Sea Salts can be used to treat psoriasis by removing the scales and easing the itchiness.
Add sea salts to your bath water and try soaking in the tub for 10 to 15 minutes. Apply a hemp or turmeric based moisturiser after to avoid getting dry skin.
This should help flake off the scales and reduce the itchiness.
Turmeric is a spice with a host of health benefits, including to help reduce and regulate inflammation in the body.
Research on turmeric for treatment of psoriasis has shown the spice to be beneficial whether applied topically or taken orally, although some of the findings provide mixed results. There is still more research which is needed in this area.
We do know turmeric, and it’s primary compound curcumin, is a potent source of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and may help relieve symptoms of psoriasis by:
- Reducing oxidative stress caused by the over-productive build-up of skin
- Reducing inflammation caused by the immune response mistaking good cells for invaders
Hemp oil contains essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, and can help ease symptoms of psoriasis [source].
Omega acids are anti-inflammatory and can reduce the inflammation response of psoriasis on your skin or scalp.
Detox Juice or Smoothie
Leading from eating clean and watching your diet, juicing is a great way to cleanse your body of toxins and inflammation.
Adding probiotics through supplements or via foods can help create the right balance of bacteria in your body which may help the immune system. Probiotics are friendly bacteria which help keep your gut healthy.
There is some research which indicates probiotics maybe beneficial for certain inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.