August is Psoriasis & Psoriatic Arthritis Month, Symptoms, Natural Treatments
August is Psoriasis month. Not because this is when it flares up, but to bring awareness to people who may have it or have been diagnosed. Approximately 1-2% of Americans, about 6 million people have psoriasis. Psoriasis is a common, chronic, genetic, systemic inflammatory disease that is characterized by signs and symptoms such as elevated itchy plaques of raised red skin covered with thick, silvery scales. It is usually found on elbows, knees and scalp, however, it can often affect the legs, trunk and nails. Psoriasis maybe found on any part of the skin.
Psoriasis is not contagious and not an infection. The immune systems plays an important role in psoriasis. A certain subset of T lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) abnormally trigger inflammation of the skin as well as other parts of the body. These T cells produce inflammatory chemicals that cause skin cells to multiply as well as producing changes in small skin blood vessels, resulting ultimate in elevated scaling plaque psoriasis.
Psoriasis has a genetic basis and can be inherited. some people carry genes the make them more likely to develop psoriasis. Just because a person has the genes doesn't mean they will have the disease.
Environmental factors such smoking, sunburns, streptococcal sore throat and alcoholism may affect psoriasis by increasing the frequency of flares. Injury to the skin has been know to trigger psoriasis. For example, a skin infection, inflammation or even excessive scratching can activate psoriasis. A number of medications have been shown to aggravate psoriasis. It can last for weeks or months. Psoriasis can flare up, go away and return.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis and is characterized by red kin covered with silvery scales and inflammation. Plaques of psoriasis vary in shape and frequently itch or burn.
Up to 10 percent of people with plaque psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis. This is an inflammation in their joint that could result in permanent joint damage if not treated aggressively. Recent information indicates that most patients with psoriasis are also predisposed to obesity, diabetes and early cardiovascular diseases. It is becoming apparent that psoriasis is not just a skin disease but can have a widespread systemic effects. (Plaque Psoriasis- pictured above, right)
What is/are some of the treatments for Psoriasis?
There are many topical and systemic treatments for psoriasis, most of them are effective in improving the appearance of the skin disease, they do not cure the condition. Some patients may also be prescribed stronger medications from their doctor or dermatologist. However, most of these can have adverse effects, especially on the liver and kidneys. Other treatments include: light therapy or laser therapy.
WebMd, www.webmed.com, can offer more in-depth information regarding this common disease, as well as the National Psoriasis Foundation, www.psoriasis.org.
There are also natural remedies to support the symptoms of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. A heavy moisturizer can help ditch the itch; it also locks moisture (water) in the skin to help heal the
skin and reduce redness. (Scalp Psoriasis- see image on right) For the scalp; use Apple Cider Vinegar, either neat or diluted, several times per week for relief. Don't try this if your scalp is bleeding or cracked. Tea Tree, or Melaleuca essential oil, can also offer relief to your skin and scalp. You can add a drop to your shampoo or on your scalp and gently massage in. Then rinse.
Image Left: Pustular Psoriasis, rare, often reaction to infection, stress, medication or contact with chemicals.There are other types of psoriasis not listed here, these are just the more common ones.
2nd image on left is Psoriatic Arthritis.
Spend a little time in the sun; catching some ultraviolet B rays can help fight psoriasis. Try to limit to 5-10 minutes per day, and use sunscreen on areas where you don't have psoriasis. Dead Sea Salt or Epsom Salt have a plethora of benefits as well. Soak in the tub for 15 minutes with warm water, This soak will help soothe your skin as well as shed some scales. Use a good moisturizer afterwards. You can also use oats in your bath,
Meditation and yoga can also help reduce the stress on your body, mind and soul. Yoga is especially helpful if you have psoriatic arthritis, it eases joint pain and expands your range of motion. Omega-3 fatty acids help fight inflammation, so eating foods like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines can help or taking Omega 3 supplements. Essential oils can also offer relief from symptoms, by applying them topically and recommended applied diluted with a carrier oil (fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil). A few people have had success with include: helichrysum, thyme, lavender, melaleuca, Roman chamomile, cedar wood and /or bergamot. * Be sure your oils are pure and Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade.