Suffering from a skin condition can be incredibly damaging to our quality of life. Not only are there uncomfortable physical symptoms to deal with, like itching or painful skin, but they can also be incredibly debilitating to our self-esteem, especially if we feel the problem is visible to others.
This is certainly the case with psoriasis, which has a particularly unpredictable nature; flare-ups can occur suddenly and with no obvious trigger, and can range from mild and small patches, to covering the entire body.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a non-contagious condition that manifests itself in flakey, scaly patches, or red and inflamed areas of skin. It is prompted when skin cells grow too quickly, and a build-up of dead cells on the skin’s surface creates plaque layers. It is thought to be an immuno-response from the body, which attacks healthy cells, mistaking them for dangerous or foreign bodies.
Psoriasis is incredibly common, and believed to be passed down through our genes to our offspring. It can appear at any age, and can be triggered by a number of different factors, including stress, bacterial infection, injury to the skin, or a lack of sunlight.
Types of Psoriasis:
There are 5 types of psoriasis: Erythrodermic, Guttate, Inverse, Plaque and Pustular.
Of these, the most common type is Plaque Psoriasis, which produces flakey white skin, and commonly manifests on the elbows, knees and hands, although severe flare-ups can occur over the whole body, including the scalp and fingernails.
As yet, there is no known cure for psoriasis, but there are certainly ways to manage these flare-ups.
Our Guide to Managing your Psoriasis:
1. MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE, MOISTURISE:
We can’t stress this enough! This is the first course of treatment that your doctor will advise, and often the most effective. After a while, you will learn what works for your skin, and often this will involve changing moisturisers depending on your skin’s needs at the time. Sometimes a heavy, soothing moisturiser will be needed, that will stay on your skin for longer, and help reduce the red itchiness, but then at other times, this sort of moisturiser will aggravate your skin and instead you’ll need something light, that will “soak in” easily and not leave an oily layer. Keep persevering- moisturise after baths and showers, before you go to bed, and anytime you feel the need in-between, and before long you will be in-tune with what helps your skin.
There are also steroidal creams available from your doctor that will take down flare-ups when nothing else seems to help. But use these very sparingly and in short bursts, as prolonged use will thin your skin. Once you have the flare-up under control, stop using the steroid cream and switch back to your moisturiser.
2. GET SOME SUN!
Sunlight, specifically UV light, helps the manufacture of vitamin D in your body, which in turn promotes healthy skin, so getting out and about will do your skin the world of good. It will also help dry out patches of psoriasis, and sooth itchiness.
Of course, we advise caution in this- don’t allow yourself to get sunburnt, and only stay in the sun for sensible periods of time.
It is also possible to pay for Phototherapy, where you will be exposed to UV light by a professional, who will monitor the dosage, and keep track of your skin’s reaction to the treatment
3. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON:
Reducing stress in your life will have a startlingly positive effect on your skin, as well as your health in general. Stress releases the hormone cortisol into the blood-stream, which can have an aggravating, inflammatory effect on our skin; you may have noticed this yourself, that two or three days after a particularly stressful period, your skin is irritated. Try and find ways to relieve yourself from the stresses of your life, through exercise, meditation, or simply finding time to relax.
4. DITCH THE BOOZE AND THE CIGARETTES!
Again, this will help your skin and your general health. And by eating a diet rich in vitamins and fibre, and low in processed foods, you will notice a difference in the condition of your skin in a matter of weeks.
Psoriasis can be tough to live with, but there is a lot you can do to keep it under control. There are also websites for psoriasis sufferers, where you can find advice and comfort, and tips from others about what works for them:
What the Press Says:
BBC News: (Click article for full size)
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Los Angeles Times: (Click article for full size)
BBC News: (Click article for full size)
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What You Say:
My son developed psoriasis. My suggestion is lots of patience as you have to apply creams twice a day to keep the skin moisturized. After 2 years it is now curing.
I just turned 30 last week. I’ve had P since I was 10 and like most of you, have had good years and bad – for me, this disease has taken its toll on my self-esteem more than anything.
I have read extensively that many people find that applying moisturizer right after a shower works great to keep plaques from scaling. I have done that, but admit that it is sometimes hard to have the extra time or put in the effort. The result was very nice skin all day.