What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a disease which affects the skin and joints and commonly causes red scaly patches to appear on the skin. The scaly patches are areas of inflammation and excessive skin production. Psoriasis can cause pain, itching, burning and emotional distress. It affects both sexes equally and can occur at any age, although it most commonly appears for the first time between the ages of 15 and 25.
Today more than seven million Americans suffer with psoriasis. Recent studies show that there may be an ethnic link. It seems that psoriasis is most common in Caucasians, slightly less in African Americans and far less common among Asians and Native Americans.
Psoriasis is not contagious. You can not catch psoriasis from another person or give it to someone by touching them, and you can’t spread it to other parts of your body.
What Causes Psoriasis?
The cause of psoriasis is not fully understood. Recent research indicates that it is likely a disorder of the immune system in which the excessive reproduction of skin cells is secondary to factors produced by the immune system.
Scientists now think that, in psoriasis, an abnormal immune system causes activity by T cells in the skin. Normally, T cells help protect the body against infection and disease, but in the case of psoriasis, they mistakenly attack skin cells instead. The body then produces other immune system responses, leading to swelling and rapid production of skin cells.
In areas affected by psoriasis, there seems to be a rapid increase in the speed at which skin cells are replaced. Skin usually takes about 28 days to mature and shed, but in areas affected by psoriasis it only takes three or four days. The dead cells build up on the skin, forming thick, flaky patches called plaques.
It is not known what initiates the activation of the T cells.
Several factors are thought to aggravate psoriasis: Infections, Diseases that weaken the immune system, Stress, Certain medications, Smoking, Certain chemicals, Severe sunburn…
Today, there are many different treatments available to help control psoriasis.
No single treatment works for everyone. The goal is to find a treatment that works the best with the fewest side effects. One of the first principles of psoriasis treatment is to not create anything worse than the disease.
There are three basic types of treatments for psoriasis:
- Topical treatment (medicated ointments or creams applied to the skin)
- Phototherapy (UVB, PUVA and lasers)
- Systemic (medications taken into the body by pill or injection)
Alternative Psoriasis treatments
The use of alternative psoriasis treatments are becoming more common as more and more people choose to treat their condition in more nontraditional ways. They have become tired of finding a traditional therapy that works, or may be concerned about the side effects many of those therapies produce.
Alternative psoriasis treatments are in most cases perfectly safe and include:
Acupuncture, Ayurveda, Manipulation Treatment, Osteopathy, Climatotherapy, Diet, Dietary Supplements, Homeopathy, Water Therapies (Balneotherapy, Heliotherapy, Phytotherapy, Thalassotherapy), Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatments, Meditation and Relaxation, Herbology, Hypnosis, Moisturizing Products, Magnets, Epsom salt, Neem oil, Fasting…