Psoriasis affects more than 8 million people in the U.S. and men, women, and children of all skin colors can be affected. One in three people with psoriasis can eventually develop psoriatic arthritis, which can potentially create permanent joint damage in the long run. This is why it’s important to understand psoriasis, look for early warning signs, and find the best treatment quickly.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin disease in which skin cells grow rapidly – approximately 10 times faster than normal – which can cause buildup on the skin and painful inflammation. It is important to treat psoriasis as soon as possible, as untreated psoriasis can potentially lead to other serious health conditions.
Signs and symptoms
Some signs and symptoms to look for include:
- Red, raised, and inflamed skin
- Rashes or bumpy patches of skin
- Itchy, dry, and painful skin that may easily bleed when scratched
- Soreness around patches
- Scaly plaques on the scalp
- Discoloration, pitting, and detachment of fingernails and toenails
- Painful, swollen joints
Anyone experiencing symptoms should highly consider talking to a medical professional or looking into Psoriasis treatments as getting treatment early can help prevent Psoriasis from becoming a much more serious condition in the future.
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Causes and triggers
Psoriasis is not contagious, so you will not catch it from someone else. Psoriasis is commonly developed due to a triggering event, and can continue to worsen by these triggers:
- Stress: Stress is the most common trigger of psoriasis. Relaxation techniques and stress management is important not only in preventing psoriasis, but also in reducing the effects of it in the body once diagnosed.
- Injury: Scratches, sunburns, bug bites and even tattoos are among a few injuries to the skin can potentially be a trigger in developing psoriasis.
- Illness: Since psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, any illness can trigger psoriasis as it can affect the immune system. Ear infections, strep throat, and bronchitis are a few examples of illnesses that may trigger psoriasis.
- Weather: Cold weather is linked to triggers of psoriasis as it is exposed to less sunlight and drier air. When experiencing cold weather, it is recommended to wrap up or avoid going out.
- Vitamin D: Deficiencies in vitamin D have been linked to psoriasis and supplementing in the vitamin can help with symptoms as well as getting regular exposure to sunlight.
- Excessive alcohol consumption: Alcohol can weaken the immune system, making it less equipped to fight off the effects of psoriasis in the body.
Not all triggers affect everyone, and it is important to keep track of your symptoms to learn which triggers affect you.
What can you do? Treatments and next steps
Treating psoriasis is incredibly important. There is no cure to psoriasis, but there are treatments that can help lower symptoms and reduce risks of developing psoriatic arthritis. Other health conditions that could arise from untreated psoriasis are cardiovascular (heart) disease, metabolic syndrome, eye problems, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, and mental health problems. Nowadays, there are many different options for treatments, and it is important to understand which is best suited for you. Various treatments include topical creams and ointments, oral or injected medication, light therapy, and alternative treatments.
Some of the most common locations where psoriasis may present itself on your body include genitals, scalp, face, hands, feet, nails and skin folds (underarms and under breasts).
Natural Treatments Options That Work Well For Most
- Aloe Vera – Aloe vera is a great natural remedy for most skin issues. Aloe Vera is usually associated with treating sunburns but research has shown that Aloe Vera is a great treatment option for Psoriasis. Recent studies have shown that Aloe Vera can reduce redness, scaliness, and itchiness that is caused by Psoriasis. You can use Aloe Vera on part of the skin that Psoriasis has flared. The fastest acting Aloe Vera topical creams have at least .5% aloe vera extract and applied multiple times a day.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple cider vinegar has many uses and many may not know that it works very well for those dealing with Psoriasis. Recent research has shown that apple cider vinegar helps relieve itching caused by Psoriasis. Apply apple cider vinegar to the parts of the skin that may be affected by Psoriasis a couple of times a week can be very beneficial in helping prevent flare-ups. Always remember to rinse off the apple cider vinegar once it has dried to prevent further itchiness.
- Dead-Sea and Epsom Salts – This is by far most people’s favorite home remedy that works wonders. A nightly 15-minute hot bath in Dead-Sea and Epsom salts helps not only with relieving scales and itchiness caused by Psoriasis but also helps reduce stress and promote relaxation. Individuals who consistently bathe in Dead-Sea and Epsom salts saw a significant improvement in their battle with Psoriasis while greatly reducing stress levels.
- Turmeric – Turmeric has been found to be very beneficial to Psoriasis because it helps to reduce inflammation. This is due to the powerful anti-inflammatory properties this ancient spice contains. Recent studies have found that using turmeric to affected Psoriasis areas reduces redness, itchiness, and scaliness. Topical turmeric options are more effective than oral supplement capsules.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Many people have the common misconception that Omega-3 is only for improving joint health which is true but it is also a great treatment option to battle Psoriasis. Omega-3 helps prevent inflammation which is one of the main causes of Psoriasis flare-ups. So adding an Omega-3 supplement to your daily diet can have a huge impact on reducing and preventing Psoriasis flare-ups and overall health.
- Coconut Oils – Coconut oils have gained a lot of popularity in recent years as a healthier alternative to olive oil when cooking. But as it turns out it works great as a daily moisturizer on the skin. Coconut oil has been proven to reduce Psoriasis symptoms because of how greatly it moisturizes affected areas also reducing redness and itchiness. Using coconut oil on the scalp is one very popular method for treating scalp psoriasis. Adding aloe vera to the mix is also a great way to enhance the effectiveness of this treatment method.
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There are five different types of psoriasis, and treatments will vary depending on the type and location of your psoriasis.
- Plaque Psoriasis: Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis (representing 80% of all diagnoses). Plaque psoriasis typically appears on the elbows, knees, and scalp and can look like red, inflamed patches of skin.
- Guttate Psoriasis: Guttate is most common in young adults and children. Guttate psoriasis can appear as small pink spots and are typically found on the torso, arms, legs, and scalp.
- Pustular Psoriasis: Pustular is uncommon, but it can be found in adults and presents itself with pus-filled blisters mainly found on the hands, feet and fingertips.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis: Erythrodermic is very rare – the least common type of psoriasis – and can appear to look like a sunburn but covers the entire body and can be very painful. This type of psoriasis can be life-threatening and should be reviewed by a doctor as soon as possible.
- Inverse Psoriasis: Since this type of psoriasis can be caused by fungal infections, it is most commonly found in the armpits, under breasts, in the groin and around genitals. It looks smooth but with red and inflamed patches, and sweating can make it worse.
Learning about your specific psoriasis will help you find the best treatment for your journey. The good news is that there are more options today than ever before, but it is up to you to research and ask your dermatologist to find which is the best treatment for your condition. You should start to see improvement between three to six months after beginning treatment.
Foods will not cure or treat psoriasis; however, some diet changes can help reduce your symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for all-around health. If you are overweight, health repercussions may affect not only your psoriasis symptoms but also how well your body responds to treatments. Reducing your overall intake of saturated fats and increase your intake of lean proteins that contain omega-3 fatty acids as they can help with inflammation. Avoid trigger foods such as red meat, refined sugar, processed food, and dairy products. Reducing or completely eliminating alcohol from your diet will also help with psoriasis symptoms and overall health.
Finding the right treatment and recommendations for preventing or improving psoriasis might seem difficult, but with research, you will find that there is a treatment that will help you in your journey. Reducing symptoms and leading a vibrant life is possible. Do your research and talk to your doctor or dermatologist to make sure you are receiving the right treatment for your condition.