Psoriasis is a common skin condition affecting 3 in 100 people in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is a speeding up of the usual replacement processes of the skin. Some describe it as the skin acting as if it were repairing an injury in certain areas by accelerating the growth of new skin cells. Normally skin cells take about 21-28 days to replace themselves; in psoriasis this process is greatly accelerated, and skin cells can be replaced every 2-6 days. This results in an accumulation of skin cells on the surface of the skin, in the form of a psoriatic plaque. This process is the same wherever it occurs on the body. More basic information can be found here at the UK Psoriasis Association.
The main feature of psoriasis is a red, scaly area or patch. The patches appear particularly on the knees, elbows and scalp and sometimes on other parts of the trunk, and legs. Psoriasis affects both sexes and all races. It can occur at any stage of life, although it starts most frequently in young adults.
Itching is usually only mild when it begins but can progress to become very itchy, with the skin bleeding as flaking occurs. Psoriasis only rarely affects general health apart from arthritis. A flare in a person’s psoriasis can, however, have a profound impact on an individual’s feelings of wellbeing and have a major impact on their way of life and daily activities. Once a person develops psoriasis it usually continues, although it may get better or worse over time and even seem to disappear for prolonged periods.
Although no one single cause for psoriasis has been found, it is known that inherited factors are important.
In a person predisposed to get psoriasis, psoriasis can be brought out or made worse by emotional stress, scratching, rubbing, injury, certain medications, some infections and smoking.
Beer Drinking and Psoriasis In Women. (We hate to be the bearer of bad news here...)
"Women who drank five or more beers a week doubled their chances of developing psoriasis, a large US study of nurses found.
In a person predisposed to get psoriasis, psoriasis can be brought out or made worse by emotional stress, scratching, rubbing, injury, certain medications, some infections and smoking. The link was specific to regular "non-light" beers. Consuming other kinds of drinks, including reduced calorie "light" beer, red and white wine and spirits, had no effect on psoriasis risk. Scientists believe the starchy grains in beer may account for the finding. Starch sources, such as barley, contain gluten which is known to be associated with psoriasis.
Typical Psoriasis Treatments
Psoriasis is a very individual disease, and what works for one person may not work for another. Below are some typical Psoriasis treatments.
Phototherapy or light therapy, involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet light on a regular basis and under medical supervision. Treatments are done in a doctor’s office or psoriasis clinic or at home with phototherapy unit. This works very well for some people but not so well for others. If you find the symptoms are less after a beach holiday, then this may be a good option. (Perhaps the lack of stress also helps here?). There is more information on UV Therapy for Psoriasis here.
Drug Based Treatments
New drugs are constantly being developed to manage the symptoms of Psoriasis. These normally work by suppressing aspects of the immune system and so often have side effects. A comparison of some Psoriasis drugs can be found here.
Lifestyle Factors Affecting Psoriasis
According to most practitioners, diet may be important in the management of psoriasis. Avoiding alcohol certainly helps for many people. Researchers have recommended antioxidants, beta-carotene, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc as nutritional factors that may play a role in the prevention and management of psoriasis. In addition, since copper may be influenced by zinc intake, it is important to also consume foods rich in copper. Fortunately, zinc food sources also provide copper. There is some evidence that a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in animal protein may be helpful. More information can be found here.
Creams for Psoriasis
"Always remember... there is usually
someone else worse off"
These cannot cure psoriasis, but good quality creams do help relieve the itching and the flaking. Naturally this is our area so we are biased, however we have had some great results with our creams which can be read at our "Word on the Street" section. Most creams from pharmacy contain Paraffin Oil, which we hear often does not help much. Our creams use rich natural oils and proteins, as well as Allantoin for skin repair. Results vary from soothing the plaques down to just areas of discoloured skin, to vey little help. Overall we believe the formula is very good and for many people the results have made our cream indespensible. But it is not a cure and no cream will cure the disease as it is an immune disorder. We would suggest the Full Cream as it is our heaviest cream.
Try and resist the urge to believe in a miracle cure. Our products are not "cures", we aim to relieve the itching flaking and irritated appearance. It is the nature of the disease that sufferers would like it cured at any cost and this is often exploited with many miracle cures available, some with very sophisticated marketing.
We have heard many very positive stories from Psoriasis sufferers using a range of techniques. Sometimes it can be a case of trial and error.
We all hope that a cure for the disease will be found soon.
"Psoriasis" of the Scalp
"This itch is driving me nuts."
Sometimes a problem people believe is "Psoriasis of the Scalp" turns out to be a different problem called "Seborrheic Dermatitis". Seborrheic Dermatitis usually occurs around the scalp, hairline, ears, neck, eye area or along the side of the nose. These are the oilier parts of the body. The good news is that this is often much easier to control with a good quality Scalp Cream and appropriate shampoo.
Also see the section under Seborrheic Dermatitis under "Eczema" here.
Seborrheic Dermatitis Images
Seborrheic Dermatitis is sometimes mistaken for Psoriasis. It is usually much easier to control than plaque psoriasis, for example using our Eczema Balm or a good scalp friendly shampoo. Improvement normally happens quickly.
Seborrheic Dermatitis also typically occurs around the eye area, side of the nose, mouth and around the ears. In severe cases it can extend down the trunk or back.
Websites with Advice and Treatment for Psoriasis.
UV Therapy for Psoriasis http://www.psoriasis.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=430
"Present in natural sunlight, UVB is an effective treatment for psoriasis. UVB penetrates the skin and slows the growth of affected skin cells. Treatment involves exposing the skin to an artificial UVB light source for a set length of time on a regular schedule. This treatment is administered in a medical setting or at home.
During treatment, your psoriasis may worsen temporarily before improving. The skin may redden and itch from exposure to the UVB light. To avoid further irritation, the amount of UVB administered may need to be reduced. Occasionally, temporary flares occur with low-level doses of UVB. These reactions tend to resolve with continued treatment."
Comparison of drugs for Psoriasis. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100113172138.htm
"The results of this study could have implications for determining the optimal approach to the treatment of psoriasis and, in particular, the need for therapeutic strategies targeting the body's immune system to provide the greatest benefit and safety."
Lifestyle factors, diet and Psoriasis. http://www.womenfitness.net/diet_for_psoriasis.htm
"Beneficial foods for Psoriasis
Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel all contain the omega-3 fatty acid known as eicosapentanoic acid (EPA). Studies have found that people with chronic psoriasis who consumed 150g of oily fish a day were able to reduce the use of steroidal creams without experiencing a decline in their condition.
"Alcohol may be trigger factor in psoriasis. In tests, alcohol consumption in people who developed psoriasis was twice that of control groups without the disease. All red and white wines, sparkling wines, champagnes, brandy, cognac, sherry, cinzano , pork, samos, all egg and nut based liqueurs, grand marnier, Cointreau need to be avoided."
The United Kingdom Psoriasis Association.Link
"Do I need to moisturise my skin?
Yes yes yes! Moisturisers make the skin feel much more comfortable by decreasing the dryness, scaling, soreness and itching. A moisturising lotion can be cooling to itchy and sore skin, and is absorbed very quickly so is ideal for use in the day time."
Typical Images of Psoriasis
Typical Plaque Psorisis on Knees (Image from University of British Columbia)
Plaque Psorisis on the Elbow
Plaque Psoriasis on the Back
A different type of Psoriasis. "Palmoplantar pustular psoriasis (PPP) is an uncommon form of chronic psoriasis. Characterized by sterile, intraepidermal pustules located on the palms and soles, it is highly resistant to treatment."