Did you know that roughly 10% of the population suffers from psoriasis, yet little is known about the disease? To date, there is no cure for psoriasis but there are many effective forms of treatment available, including natural remedies.
It is not known what causes psoriasis; just that it is often triggered by things like stress or medications in those people who are genetically pre-dispositioned to the condition.
What we do know is that psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, which means it prevents the immune system from functioning correctly. A typical body will shed approximately 40,000 skin cells every minute. The immune systems of people with psoriasis sends out faulty signals to the body, creating excess skin cells and instead of falling off, they build up on the skin and form red, scaly patches.
There are five different types of psoriasis, which all have different symptoms and show up on different parts of the body. Your skin, nails, underarms and scalp are all common areas that psoriasis shows itself. There are three main treatment methods for psoriasis, depending on the severity of the condition.
Most people will start out with topical medicines which are applied over the affected area. These are usually anti-inflammatory agents, such as steroids that reduce the swelling and redness of lesions. Anthralin, synthetic Vitamin D3, and Vitamin A are also used to treat psoriasis lesions.
Phototherapy is the use of ultraviolet light which can be dangerous if frequently exposed, but when used in moderation has also shown to slow the production of excessive skin cells.
As a last resort, prescription drugs may be given. They are usually in liquid or pill form and fight the disease from the inside out and are usually used for individuals with moderate to severe psoriasis or for those not able or unresponsive to topical medications or UV light therapy.
It is often the case that your doctor may recommend that you rotate the types of treatment in order that your body not become immune to any one treatment.
There are also many natural remedies that you can make at home to help relieve and lessen the discomfort and unsightliness of psoriasis outbreaks.
- Apple Cider is a natural remedy for so many things, and psoriasis is just one of them. If your nails are affected, soak your nails in a vinegar dip. You can also make a washcloth compress of 1 cup vinegar and 1 gallon of water and apply it to your skin to help ease itching.
- Baking Soda will take the itch out of your scaly patches. Mix 1 1/2 cups baking soda with 3 gallons water and apply to your itchy patches with a washcloth soaked in the solution.
- Olive Oil can be used in many different fashions, and will help soften the dead skin of your scaly patches and make them easier to remove. You mix 2 teaspoons of olive oil with a large glass of milk and add this to your bath, or massage warm olive oil into your skin or scalp.
- Mineral Oil is also great for relieving dry, itchy skin and can also be added to bath water.
- Epsom Salts can be added to your bathwater to keep the swelling down and help heal your psoriasis.
- Capsaicin is what gives cayenne pepper its heat and can help relieve pain and itching by blocking the communication system of sensory nerves. It has been shown that creams containing capsaicin helped relieve itching and got rid of psoriasis plaques. Make sure that you read the label of any cream containing capsaicin because any more than .075 may burn your skin. Make sure you keep this cream away from your eyes, nose and mouth, as it can give you a bit of a burning sensation, but it does seem to work to get rid of the plaques in about a week.
- Aloe Vera has long been known for its skin-soothing properties, and helping to heal psoriasis is one of them. You can buy the plant itself and split open one of its leaves and smear the gel onto your affected areas. I only recently discovered that you can buy large containers of pure aloe vera gel from your local pharmacy or Walmart, if you have large areas to cover.
Any of these benefits of the recipes above, or even your moisturizers and medicated lotions will be enhanced if you wrap the areas in regular kitchen plastic wrap. All you have to do is apply your cream or medicine as usual, then cover the area with the wrap and leave the wrap on for a period of time (a few hours to overnight). If your skin starts to become soggy, you have left the wrap on for too long, making your skin more susceptible to secondary infections. There are also special OTC (Actiderm) patches you can get.
I remember when the advertisements used to call it the “Heartbreak of Psoriasis.” Although I think “Heartbreak” is a bit of stretch, psoriasis can affect our lives tremendously. Besides being an eyesore and cause discomfort and even pain, it can lead to other medical problems. If you suspect or know you have psoriasis, always consult your doctor about all possible methods of treatment, and see what works best for you.