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Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes skin cells to grow too quickly. The life cycle of skin cells is tightly controlled, but psoriasis patients have cells that reproduce uncontrollably. This results in the formation of patches of red, scaly, often itchy skin. Psoriasis is not easy to cure; like other autoimmune diseases, it tends to be long-term. People with psoriasis are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression, suggesting that there may be common causes for these diseases. There are many known causes of psoriasis, whereas there are few causes that are not known. So, the question arises that what are all these unknown causes? Before that, let’s know in detail about psoriasis:
What is psoriasis?
It is a common autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells. In people with psoriasis, the body’s immune system overreacts to organisms in the body and produces too many growth-related proteins, called cytokines. These proteins trigger inflammatory responses that cause affected areas of the skin to become thickened and flaky or scaly. The patches of psoriasis may be red or silvery-white, with raised borders and often a crusty appearance in places where a scale has formed over weeping lesions due to scratching. Psoriasis can affect any part of life in which you have skin, such as your elbows, knees, scalp, and nails.
Psoriasis varies in severity from person to person. Some people have just a few small areas of psoriasis lesions, while others have widespread patches over large areas of their bodies. It can be mild or severe and persistent or intermittent depending on the person’s response to treatment.
What are the types and symptoms of psoriasis?
- Plaque psoriasis – This is the most common type of psoriasis. It usually starts as small, raised red areas that often develop a silvery scale. The affected areas are called plaques and can vary in size and appearance. Most people have plaque psoriasis on their elbows, knees, and trunk. However, it also occurs on the scalp or genitals or skin folds where limited airflow may be.
- Guttate (drop) psoriasis – This relatively rare form of psoriasis usually appears first as small spots when you are young, but it’s sometimes triggered by infections such as strep throat. These spots are called guttate lesions and typically disappear within a few weeks. If the spots reappear, they may thicken and scale over time. Guttate psoriasis can occur in people of all ages, including children and adults.
- Inverse psoriasis – This type of psoriasis causes smooth patches or areas that are red and inflamed or infected with pus-filled sores, blisters, and crusts. People with this form of psoriasis often have diseased skin folds under their breasts, around their genitals (between the thigh and groin), between buttock cheeks (the “sit bones”), below the umbilicus (“belly button”), under the armpits, or along skin creases and skin that overlaps a joint.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis – This is the least common type of psoriasis and often requires hospitalization. It is characterized by widespread redness and peeling of the skin over most of your body with extreme scaling, resembling a severe sunburn. Although rare, erythrodermic psoriasis can be fatal. It leads to infections and loss of fluids (dehydration) caused by excessive scratching and rubbing without any relief from itching.
What are known causes?
- Family history: If you have a parent with psoriasis, your risk of developing it too is about 10%.
- Environmental factors: Exposure to certain medications or chemicals may trigger the disease in some people. Some cases are linked to infections such as strep throat or hepatitis C. However, no specific infectious agent has been proven to cause the disease.
- Health conditions: Psoriasis can sometimes be associated with other autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), obesity, and rheumatoid arthritis. People who have psoriasis often report feeling more tired than usual, possibly because their condition makes them feel self-conscious about their appearance all the time, which also leads to a lack of sleep.
- Hormonal factors: For some women, their psoriasis gets worse just before or during their period. This is because certain sex hormones produced in the ovary may affect your immune system, causing it to trigger psoriasis symptoms. Pregnant women can also develop new patches of psoriasis or see them get better or worse while they are pregnant.
All drugs have side effects, so they should be taken only when needed for a limited duration as directed by the doctor. It includes over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like aspirin and ibuprofen.
What are the hidden causes of psoriasis:
- Diet: It is the commonest cause of food intolerance affecting about 15% to 20 % of the population with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- Infections: If you have guttate psoriasis, strep throat, or hepatitis C can trigger it.
- Psychological factors: Stress has been known to worsen psoriasis even without any triggering event. Some people report that they feel an itch coming on just before a stressful situation such as at work or during an important meeting. This “itch” comes from your mind and not really from your skin!
4· Skin trauma/irritation: Frequent scratching or rubbing may worsen psoriasis by irritating and damaging the skin and opening up the skin to infections.
5· Smoking: It is a bowel irritant linked to heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases.
6· Obesity: Excess weight changes your metabolism, which affects hormone levels in your body leading to psoriasis outbreaks. This is even truer for Inverse psoriasis, which occurs in overweight people or has obesity problems causing friction between the skin folds leading to irritation and inflammation triggering psoriatic flare-ups.
7· Alcohol: It thins the blood, making it harder to protect against infection, leading to impairment of the immune system worsening flare-ups by allowing pathogens to enter the blood more efficiently.
- Steroids: They help control or stop it from getting worse but relieve only the symptoms without getting rid of it completely.
10· Sunlight: UV radiation from the sun can suppress the immune system and worsen psoriasis.
11· Fungal infections: Candida albicans (yeast) may trigger psoriasis due to its ability to evade the immune system and also changes in your gut flora.
12· Infections: If you have guttate psoriasis, strep throat, or hepatitis C can trigger it.
13.· Heartburn/Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): The stomach acid traveling up into the throat may irritate the skin at the back of your throat, triggering guttate psoriasis even without an infection taking place.
These are some uncommon or hidden causes of psoriasis. As per the cause of psoriasis, there are different modes of treatment as well. These are the ways dermatologists or skin doctors treat psoriasis.
Treatment of psoriasis: Various treatment options that your doctor may recommend for psoriasis include:
- Topical treatments: Creams, ointments, gels, or foams applied directly on the skin to treat mild psoriasis.
- Ointments: If you have plaque psoriasis covering more expansive areas of your body, your doctor may recommend an ointment containing coal tar which is rubbed into the affected areas every day until it clears up completely.
3· Light therapy: Your dermatologist can advise phototherapy by exposing small amounts of your skin to natural or artificial ultraviolet light for short periods each week depending on the severity of the condition and how much it has spread over your body. Blue light can also be used in combination with other forms of phototherapy too.
4· Systemic treatment or biologics: Your dermatologist may prescribe biologic drug-containing substances that affect the immune system to help your body control psoriasis.
5· Drugs containing retinoids: They are vitamin A derivatives used to treat psoriasis, which also reduces scaling and inflammation. But they can increase your risk of congenital disabilities if you become pregnant while taking them, so it is best to use contraception while using these drugs or opt for safer alternatives too.
6· Steroids: Your doctor may also prescribe corticosteroid tablets or injections when you have severe outbreaks of psoriasis on large areas of skin. Not only do steroids reduce inflammation, but they are also effective in stopping itching by acting directly at the spot where itch receptors are found!
7· Antibiotics: Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat guttate psoriasis triggered by streptococcal infections.
8· Remicade/Infliximab: These are immunosuppressant drugs that can help reduce the severity of psoriatic arthritis once it has settled.
9· Arava/leflunomide: This is another drug used in treating rheumatoid arthritis which can be used for people with psoriatic arthritis.
10· Plaquenil/hydroxychloroquine: It’s a tablet taken orally to treat mild cases of psoriatic arthritis and discoid or inverse psoriasis.
These are the standard ways of treatment provided by dermatologists or skin doctors. With these, you can also consider natural treatment options for psoriasis.
Natural psoriasis treatment:
With the advancement of technology and science in this world, we have found some better and safe ways to treat psoriasis. These natural treatment options for psoriasis help with the relief from symptoms and also helps with management so that your skin can heal completely.
1· Coconut oil: This is one of the best remedies to get rid of psoriasis. It has antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties that fight against the root cause of skin ills such as psoriasis by killing off Candida yeast, a common reason for guttate psoriasis too!
2· Aloe vera gel: This is another alternative you can try at home if you want an effective remedy to get rid of your psoriasis. It restores the pH balance in your body, soothes itchy skin, and reduces inflammation too.
3· Epsom salts bath: One of the most effective ways to treat psoriasis at home. Add two cups of Epsom salt to three inches of water in a tub full enough for you to soak yourself comfortably. Soak in the solution for half an hour each day until you see improvement or can do it daily if required. You will notice that your skin starts looking normal again!
4· Turmeric paste: Taking turmeric orally is also helpful in treating psoriasis, but if you want faster results, you should make a paste with either oil or olive oil and add it to Epsom salts.
5· Exercise regularly: Working out at least for half an hour daily can improve your health in many ways, including relief from psoriasis. It increases the circulation of oxygenated blood throughout your body, which is vital for healthy skin. It boosts positive endorphins to help you handle stress better, avoid depression, and lift your mood!
6· Staying hydrated: You need to stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking at least eight glasses of water if you want healthier skin with no outbreaks or flare-ups. Lack of proper hydration can reduce your white blood cells’ ability to fight infections and diseases like psoriasis, thus increasing its intensity further.
- Vitamin D: By taking Vitamin D supplements orally or getting an injection of it, you can treat psoriasis triggered internally due to vitamin D deficiency.
8 · Healthy diets are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, fruits, and veggies: A healthy diet has many benefits, including healing! If you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables along with Omega 3-rich foods like fish oil supplements, walnuts, flaxseeds, etc., your body gets all the nutrients required to heal itself quickly!
9· Avoiding triggers: If you can identify and avoid the things that trigger psoriasis on your skin, you can reduce the chances of an outbreak or flare-up to a great extent. You need to know the leading cause behind these lesions’ appearance so that you can work towards removing them from your daily life whenever they appear.
10· Homeopathic treatment: This treatment is one of the best natural remedies for psoriasis, which works by promoting your body’s healing systems and strengthening your immune system to fight against skin disorders like psoriasis.
Benefits of homeopathic treatment for psoriasis:
Homeopathy is used extensively to treat various types of skin disorders, including psoriasis, without any reported side effects.
Homeopathic medicines are prepared by using natural substances like plants, minerals, animal products, etc. They do not cause any side effects. It provides the same nutrition supplied to normal healthy cells and hence increases the patient’s immunity. Some of the benefits of homeopathic treatment for psoriasis are as follows:
1) Homeopathic treatment helps restore health by strengthening the immune system (auto-immunity diseases cannot be cured permanently without building immunity).
2) Homeopathic treatment for psoriasis stimulates the body’s defence mechanism. This brings a message to dendritic cells so that they can communicate appropriately with T cells and B cells which results in recovery from psoriasis.
3) Homeopathic treatment removes the disease by detoxification rather than by attacking the symptoms of the disease. As the treatment progresses, the intensity and frequency of eruptions reduce gradually, resulting in relief from psoriasis.
4) Homeopathic medicines improve overall health by boosting immunity and often helps to cure other co-morbid conditions like obesity, environmental sensitivities (like chemical hypersensitivity), depression (Psoriasis is associated with low serotonin levels), vertigo, headache, etc. which are common problems among homeopathic patients.
5) Homeopathy for psoriasis will not suppress or interfere with conventional medications taken for psoriasis. Still, it complements the therapy by providing long-term relief if used as a monotherapy (without other medicines). Homeopathy treats both cause and symptom, simultaneously reducing relapses. It would help if you considered visiting a registered homeopathy doctor for details. You can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy for homeopathic consultation.