Most of us have all heard of psoriasis, however, many of us may not understand what psoriasis is.
Psoriasis is a condition of the skin in which red, scaly patches appear on the skin. Commonly patches are whitish to silver and develop into thick red patches.
While it is not exactly known at this time what causes psoriasis, it is thought to be a combination of immune system and genetics. Something usually triggers the immune system to become overactive or “flare” such as inflammation.
Psoriasis occurs because of an immune mediated reaction that causes the cells of the skin to grow at an accelerated rate. This abnormally fast production of skin cells causes build-up of plaques or lesions due to the skin not being able to slough them off as fast as they are growing.
Psoriasis normally occurs on the outside of the elbows, knees, scalp, but can occur in any location of the body. Psoriasis can also affect the feel and appearance of the nails.
There are a few different types or psoriasis:
- Plaque -the most common type causing red inflamed scaly patches.
- Guttate is common after a strep infection and more common in childhood. This type causes small pink circular areas that are not quite red or raised as in plaque psoriasis.
- Pustular causes white pus filled blisters and large areas of red inflamed skin. This type is found usually on smaller areas of the body such as hands and feet.
- Inverse causes red shiny inflamed areas usually in the armpits, under breasts, groin or other skin fold areas.
- Erythrodermic is severe and very rate. The skin appears sunburned. Often covering large sections of the body at once, the skin will slough off in large sheets of tissue. This is more common during illness and can be life threatening.
There are many external triggers that can cause psoriasis to flare or worsen. The most common triggers include stress, heavy alcohol use, medication side effects, infections, and injuries.
It is estimated that a certain percentage of people who have psoriasis will also develop psoriatic arthritis. However, people who have psoriasis are also at risk of developing other conditions such as Diabetes, Crohn’s disease, Kidney disease, Heart Disease and Hypertension.
There are many treatment options available. Many start with biologics or other immune suppressing drugs to calm down the immune system. Your Naturopathic physician may be able to guide you through lifestyle changes, immune support and other lower force treatments such as low dose naltrexone that can lower the immune response and encourage healing.
- Avoiding inflammatory triggers is especially important. Talk to your Naturopathic doctor about food allergen testing. You may not realize you have a food sensitivity that could be creating lots of inflammation in your body without your knowledge.
- Anti-inflammatory diet free of refined sugar, dairy products, processed foods, fatty meats, and alcohol. Including Omega-3 fatty acids and turmeric can help to quell inflammation.
- Reduce stress by meditating, journalling, practicing yoga, or breathing exercises. Your Naturopathic doctor can also help guide you to adrenal support herbs that can also help support your body’s stress response.
- Getting good restorative sleep. If you aren’t sleeping well, you are probably not healing well and could lead to increased trouble with your psoriasis or trouble with getting things to calm down.
Treating psoriasis is usually a multi-faceted approach and doesn’t include just one treatment option. Being under the guidance of an experienced Naturopathic Physician and Rheumatologist can be especially important for maintaining and improving your health.