Psoriasis is an annoying condition that is associated with dry and flaky skin. This can be painful in some rare cases, but is primarily a frustrating and aesthetic issue for many people. A psoriasis “flare up” can be highly embarrassing, covering the face, arms, and torso with flaky patches of red skin. Sufferers struggle to find the best treatments. The good news is that it CAN be treated, and if you know how to approach psoriasis management, you can enjoy healthy, smooth skin once again. Tired of your treatment, then read on and discover some of the latest advancements.
The issue is that psoriasis is a more complex issue that it might initially seem. This is an autoimmune disease for starters, rather than an issue related to dry or oily skin. It is actually caused by an increased rate of production of the skin cells, and can be triggered by wound repair. In most people, skin cells are replaced at around 28-30 days. In psoriasis however, this process ramps all the way up to every 3-5 days1!
Fortunately, there are some ways to address this specific problem.
Top Treatments for Psoriasis
Vitamin D Supplementation
Vitamin D and its analogs are particularly effective at treating autoimmune diseases like psoriasis. This is because vitamin D has the potential to be even more effective for the immune system than vitamin C2.
Vitamin D actually has less in common with other vitamins and acts more like a master hormone, helping to regulate the production of other hormones throughout the body. This allows it to support immunity and keep the body healthy and strong. Seeing as outbreaks of psoriasis often tend to occur during times when our immunity is suppressed (during a cold or period of stress for example), this can help to prevent that from happening.
Vitamin D production occurs in the body but requires the presence of direct sunlight exposure. Spending more time outdoors is a great way to combat psoriasis then, especially seeing as fresh air can also help to improve the immune system.
If you had an immune reaction that was causing unwanted swelling, then you may be treated with a corticosteroid to help ease the symptoms. For example, if you suffered from tendinitis, then a doctor may use an injection of corticosteroids to treat that.
Seeing as psoriasis is often caused by similar actions in the immune response, corticosteroids can be similarly effective in combating it. Corticosteroids are most effective at treating psoriasis when they are described as “very strong.” By combining this approach with vitamin D supplementation, many patients enjoy a very positive outcome.
One of the more unpleasant effects of psoriasis is that the skin can form into what are known as plaques. These are hard patches of skin that are particularly unappealing and can even be uncomfortable. Applying mineral oils directly to the area can help to minimize this effect. Moisturizers are also effective, withering petroleum jelly, calcipotriol, and decubal. Emollients are particularly effective when combined with phototherapy.
Which brings us nicely to this option. Phototherapy works by using light waves that are designed to mimic the sun. This triggers the release of vitamin D, while also penetrating through the outer layers of the skin. The wavelengths used specifically are 311-313 nanometers… so now you know!
Inflammation in the body is responsible for all kinds of unwanted effects, potentially even including depression (due to inflammation affecting the brain). Psoriasis is one more thing that can be caused by inflammation, as it causes the skin cells to become damaged and rushes blood to the area. Remember: inflammation is an immune response!
To help combat this, some of the most effective treatments include:
- Diets high in omega 3. Omega 3 exists in balance with omega 6 and while both essential fatty acids are important, when the balance becomes skewed, this leads to inflammation. Many of us have too much omega 6 in our diets, and not enough omega 3 – so consuming more oily fish can help a lot.
- Turmeric is a remedy that is not only anti-inflammatory but also helps to alter gene expression3. This is interesting, as it can affect the gene expressions responsible for flare ups!
- Vanilla extract
How Stress Contributes to Psoriasis and What to Do About It
Stress can impact on your complexion in a variety of different ways.
For starters, stress increases the heart rate due to an influx of adrenaline. This in turn means that your blood will be circulated more rapidly and forcefully which can lead to a short term reddening of the complexion as well as a blotchiness.
At the same time, stress also suppresses the immune system. This is why something like psoriasis is much more likely to ‘flare up’ when you are experiencing acute stress. Essentially, the body believes you are under attack from an external threat which is why blood is driven to the brain and the muscles. This unfortunately has the unwanted side effect of leaving your immune system ‘wide open’ to attack.
This is particularly bad for those with psoriasis in fact because psoriasis is considered to be a diseases of the immune system. Specifically, psoriasis is thought to be caused by chemical messengers called neuropeptides. These cause pain, itching and inflammation and are a part of the normal immune response but can be overactive in psoriasis. Anything that causes upset to your immune system then appears to be more likely to lead to this activity and the breakouts.
Stress also affects hormones and as is well known, hormones are very much responsible for the sebum secreted from the skin. The more stressed you are, the more out of whack those hormones will be.
Add to this the fact that stress causes you to lose sleep, eat less healthily and touch your face more regularly (many of us do this unconsciously when we’re nervous) and you have something of a ‘perfect storm’ when it comes to bad skin.
What to do About Stress and Acne
So if you’re experiencing acne or psoriasis and you think it’s at least partly to do with stress, what can you do?
One option is to try and address and eliminate the ‘stressors’ in your life. These are anything that present an ongoing or immediate source of stress and can include things like work stress or financial pressure. You may want to consider changing jobs, getting debt management or at least just taking a holiday to unwind.
What’s more effective still though is to focus on the way you deal with stress. Stress isn’t really caused by events or circumstances so much as it is caused by our reaction to those events and circumstances. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of psychotherapeutic intervention that focuses on teaching you how to change the way you think about stressful situations and how to cope with stressful events. This can give you the skills and the tools you need to remain calmer – and when you can do that your body and your skin will thank you!
Psoriasis is a complex condition and one that responds best to an assault on multiple fronts. Focus not only on the skin itself, but also on your immunity, and even your mood. If you do this correctly, you can manage flare ups and even keep them at bay.