Psoriasis is a common skin disease that affects the life cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin, forming thick silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that are sometimes painful.
Psoriasis is a persistent, long-lasting (chronic) disease. You may have periods when your psoriasis symptoms improve or go into remission alternating with times your psoriasis worsens.
Psoriasis treatments aim to:
- Interrupt the cycle that causes an increased production of skin cells, thereby reducing inflammation and plaque formation.
- Remove scales and smooth the skin, which is particularly true of topical treatments that you apply to your skin.
Psoriasis treatments can be divided into three main types: topical treatments, light therapy and systemic medications. There are also lifestyle/home remedies and alternative medicine options, which are featured here in this blog.
Talk to your doctor about your options, especially if you're not improving after using a particular treatment or if you're having uncomfortable side effects. He or she can adjust your treatment plan or modify your approach to ensure the best possible control of your symptoms.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Although self-help measures won't cure psoriasis, they may help improve the appearance and feel of damaged skin. These measures may benefit you:
Take daily bathsBathing daily helps remove scales and calm inflamed skin. Add bath oil, colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts to the water and soak for at least 15 minutes. Avoid hot water and harsh soaps, which can worsen symptoms; use lukewarm water and mild soaps that have added oils and fats.
Use moisturizerBlot your skin after bathing, then immediately apply a heavy, ointment-based moisturizer while your skin is still moist. For very dry skin, oils may be preferable — they have more staying power than creams or lotions do and are more effective at preventing water from evaporating from your skin. During cold, dry weather, you may need to apply a moisturizer several times a day.
Cover the affected areas overnightTo help improve redness and scaling, apply an ointment-based moisturizer to your skin and wrap with plastic wrap overnight. In the morning, remove the covering and wash away the scales with a bath or a shower.
Expose your skin to small amounts of sunlightA controlled amount of sunlight can significantly improve lesions, but too much sun can trigger or worsen outbreaks and increase the risk of skin cancer. If you sunbathe, it's best to try short sessions three or more times a week. Keep a record of when and how long you're in the sun to help avoid overexposure. And be sure to protect healthy skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or perspiring. Before beginning any sunbathing program, ask your doctor about the best way to use natural sunlight to treat your skin.
Apply medicated cream or ointmentApply an over-the-counter cream or ointment containing hydrocortisone or salicylic acid to reduce itching and scaling. If you have scalp psoriasis, try a medicated shampoo that contains coal tar. For best results, follow label directions.
Avoid psoriasis triggers, if possibleFind out what triggers, if any, worsen your psoriasis and take steps to prevent or avoid them. Infections, injuries to your skin, stress, smoking and intense sun exposure can all worsen psoriasis.
Avoid drinking alcoholAlcohol consumption may decrease the effectiveness of some psoriasis treatments.
Eat a healthy diet.Although there's no evidence that certain foods will either improve or aggravate psoriasis, it's important to eat a healthy diet, particularly when you have a chronic disease. A healthy diet includes eating a variety fruits and vegetables of all colors and whole grains. If you eat meat, focus on lean cuts and fish. If you think certain foods make your symptoms better or worse, keep a food diary to see what effect different foods have.
Alternative Psoriasis Therapies
Many alternative therapies are available to ease the symptoms of psoriasis, including special diets, creams, dietary supplements and herbs. Some alternative therapies are deemed generally safe, and they may be helpful to some people in reducing signs and symptoms, such as itching and scaling.
Aloe veraTaken from the leaves of the aloe vera plant, aloe extract cream or gel may reduce redness, scaling, itching and inflammation. You may need to use aloe vera several times a day for a month or more to see any improvements in your skin.
Fish oilOmega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil supplements may reduce inflammation associated with psoriasis, although results from studies are mixed. Taking 3 grams or less of fish oil daily is generally recognized as safe, and you may find it beneficial.
If you're considering dietary supplements or other alternative therapy to ease the symptoms of psoriasis, consult your doctor. He or she can help you weigh the pros and cons of specific alternative therapies.
Article courtesy of The Mayo Clinic.com, found here.