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Psoriasis is the condition of developing scaly patches on your skin. It is a chronic, non-contagious, lifelong autoimmune disease that causes redness, swelling, pain, and itching. Psoriasis can affect anybody area but most commonly occurs on the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp. The condition varies from person to person, with some patients experiencing mild symptoms while others experience severe psoriasis, which affects their daily lives. No matter what type of psoriasis you have or how easy or difficult your symptoms are to deal with, it is essential you seek medical advice about topical treatments such as creams and ointments. Please consult a doctor before using any of these home remedies below for yourself.
Why does psoriasis cause pain?
When your body is experiencing pain, it releases chemicals called ‘substance P’ and ‘calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).’ These substances interact with receptors present on most nerve cells then send signals to the brain that cause pain. When you have psoriasis, these substances are overproduced, which causes more pain than usual.
What are the types of psoriasis that can cause pain?
Five main types of psoriasis can lead to pain.
Plaque psoriasis: This form of psoriasis is the most common and accounts for 80 percent of psoriasis cases. It occurs when dead cells build up on the skin’s surface, forming thick, dry scales resembling red ‘plaques.’ The plaques can also crack and bleed, which causes pain and discomfort for patients.
Guttate psoriasis: This type usually develops in children or young adults as a complication of a bacterial infection such as strep throat or scarlet fever. It causes small lesions concentrated around the trunk, scalp, elbows, knees, feet, hands, and face. These lesions enlarge then combine, resulting in rashes that can be itchy and painful. In some severe cases, guttate psoriasis joints may become swollen and sensitive, making walking difficult.
Inverse psoriasis: Inverse psoriasis is a rare type of psoriasis that occurs when normal skin on the body is replaced with inflamed and red patches. It can also appear on the scalp, genitals, armpits, and under the breast in women. This form of psoriasis causes pain for patients as this area becomes easily irritated by clothing or scratching of the affected area.
Pustular psoriasis: Pustular psoriasis is another rare type where bumps filled with pus pockets build up on top of thick lesions of cracked skin. Patient’s experience burning sensations which make it uncomfortable to walk or perform daily activities such as shaving.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is the most severe form of psoriasis, where thick, red patches cover around 90 percent or more of your body. This can lead to intense itching and discomfort and unbearable pain for patients, especially those who are sensitive to heat.
Psoriatic arthritis: This type of arthritis occurs in around 10 percent of psoriasis cases. It can cause pain and swell in your joints, fingers, toes, lower back, neck, and spine.
What are the symptoms of painful psoriasis?
The symptoms of psoriasis are not the same for everyone. Some people may experience mild symptoms with one or two small patches on their skin, while others can have more severe symptoms with several large patches across their body.
The main symptoms are:
- Itchy patches
The itching and irritation may be mild and tolerable or extreme, causing you to scratch, which can cause breakouts. Scratching the affected area will only aggravate the symptoms of psoriasis, making it more painful.
- Dry patches
Some people have dry skin even without psoriasis, but for those who have psoriasis, their dry skin is more sensitive to alcohol-containing products such as cleansers or moisturizers. Ensure to read ingredients labels carefully before applying any effect on your skin if you are experiencing dryness associated with psoriasis to avoid further skin irritation.
- Red patches
The red plaques are affected areas that make up most of the plaque psoriasis. If you have patches of red spots with scaling on your skin, you may be experiencing plaque psoriasis.
- Patches that look like thickening of your skin
Individuals who have guttate or inverse psoriasis might notice their skin looks thickened and scaly due to the plaques popping up over inflamed joints, which cause pain.
- Cracked Skin
This is not an uncommon symptom for those with psoriasis, especially if dry patches on the body are associated with this condition, making your skin more vulnerable to cracks or breakouts when it is irritated by scratching, itching, or rubbing against surfaces such as bedding materials disrupting its integrity.
- Swollen joints
Psoriatic arthritis can cause swollen and painful joints in some cases, making it hard to walk or perform simple day-to-day activities.
- Red, shiny patches of the scalp
Scalp psoriasis causes red, scaly areas on your head that are often associated with pain when they crack or burst open, which may be accompanied by itching and irritation.
How can I ease my psoriasis-related pain?
If you are suffering from mild to moderate psoriasis-related pain, many natural remedies are available that may help you manage your symptoms. Here are some suggestions:
- Change Your Diet
Many experts believe diet plays a vital role in managing your psoriasis symptoms–both in triggering an outbreak and easing your discomfort. It is thought that patients with psoriasis may be experiencing an autoimmune reaction to certain foods, which causes their immune system to produce antibodies that attack healthy skin cells. High-sugar foods are the number one dietary trigger for causing psoriasis to flare up, while omega-3 fatty acids can help ease your symptoms once they have appeared.
- Apply Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. Numerous studies show how effective it can be against pain relief for various conditions, including burns, wounds, insect bites, eczema, and even arthritis. If you want to use aloe vera on your skin, make sure you get the purest form possible. One way is to buy an aloe vera plant and extract it yourself, but be very careful when doing this because some aloe species are poisonous if ingested. In contrast, others can cause skin irritation, so guidance from a doctor or dermatologist is always advised before use.
- Try Oral Fish Oil Supplements
Fish oil supplements are one of the most popular natural remedies for psoriasis-related pain on the market today due to their omega-3 fatty acid contents. Many people believe that consuming fish oil capsules daily helps ease inflammation in people living with psoriasis, reducing associated pain levels. Research has shown that people with rheumatoid arthritis who took 8 grams of fish daily found significant reductions in pain and stiffness.
- Try Turmeric Capsules
Curcumin (turmeric’s active ingredient) is a natural anti-inflammatory that helps fight infection and treat pain, among other things. Studies have shown that using curcumin capsules to treat ulcerative colitis helped reduce inflammation in the bowel over time, which led to reduced discomfort for these patients suffering from this type of inflammatory bowel disorder. Studies have also found that 400 mg curcumin supplements daily doses can help relieve patients with psoriasis-related pain within four months of treatment.
- Aromatherapy Can Help Alleviate Pain & Discomfort
One study involving 26 people with psoriasis investigated whether aromatherapy had any impact on psoriasis-related pain and discomfort levels. Participants were given a blend of essential oils including bergamot, chamomile tea tree, lavender, and myrrh to use as a bath oil for 12 weeks. At the end of these 12 weeks, those who had used the aromatherapy treatment found their psoriasis symptoms eased significantly.
6 . Homeopathic treatment works
If you’re looking for alternative pain-relieving therapies, then homeopathy may be something to consider. A study involving 30 patients who have painful psoriasis found that after four months of treatment with a high potency homeopathic remedy, more than 70% of participants’ pain had eased significantly.
7 . Yoga, Meditation can ease symptoms
Yoga is effective in reducing stress, which is believed to trigger psoriasis symptoms. Meditation can also help patients learn how to relax and control their breathing, which is vital when easing the discomfort of any physical ailment. There are many other things you can do in your everyday life that may improve the symptoms of psoriasis, including cutting down on caffeine intake, drinking less alcohol, smoking less or none at all, and getting more sleep. Psoriasis pain usually only occurs during an outbreak, so try not to worry if it flares up from time to time, as this won’t last forever.
Is there any treatment that can alleviate psoriasis pain?
Yes, some treatments can help reduce the pain associated with psoriasis. These are:
- Corticosteroid cream
Corticosteroid lotion is very effective in reducing inflammation and relieving pain. It must be applied as directed by the doctor. It may take a few days or weeks to see improvement after using it. However, corticosteroid creams should not be used continuously for more than two weeks because of their side effects, leading to severe health problems.
2 . Vitamin D Supplements
It’s a synthetic form of vitamin D that reduces scaling and inflammation associated with psoriasis. This medication comes as a cream or ointment and is usually applied once a day before bed. Other brand names include Daivobet, calcitriol, calcitriol ointment, calcipotriene, and Calcijex.
3 . Coal tar preparations
It’s a thick black liquid that is widely used in topical medicines to relieve itching and scaling. It also reduces inflammation. Coal tar preparations are available as shampoos, soaps, creams, gels, lotions, and ointments applied regularly to affected areas of the skin that may or may not be covered with cloth.
4 . Topical retinoids
It improves psoriasis symptoms by reducing scaling and thickening the top layer of your skin, which contains cells lining the outer surface. These medications are available in cream form but must be used sparingly because they cause high levels of redness, itching, peeling, and burning on some people when applied onto broken skin or after shaving. Examples include tazarotene (Average), tretinoin (Retin A), adapalene (Differin).
- Calcineurin Inhibitors
These are medications that help the body produce less of a protein responsible for triggering psoriasis symptoms. They’re not recommended for pregnant women because they may cause severe congenital disabilities in unborn babies. Some brand names include Protopic, tacrolimus (Prograf), pimecrolimus (Elidel).
6 . Systemic Drugs
They’re powerful oral drugs that can treat psoriasis type of arthritis, which is inflammation in the joints caused by psoriasis. Systemic medications also reduce swelling and irritation of the skin associated with this condition. Doctors usually prescribe corticosteroids or methotrexate for this purpose.
7 . Taking a break from work
If your symptoms are so severe that they cause enough pain to interfere with your daily activities, you may want to consider taking time off from work. However, it’s important not to overdo things because if you do, it can worsen the symptoms of psoriasis and lead to a more severe case in the long run. It must also be noted that if your symptoms become unbearable even when using topical treatments, contact your doctor immediately for further advice.
- Homeopathic treatment
The homeopathic treatment effectively treats this type of pain because it treats the symptoms and the root cause of psoriasis, which results in a more holistic approach to getting rid of this condition. In other words, homeopathy helps strengthen your immune system and detoxify your body so it can heal itself from within. For example, the Arsenicum album is considered one of the best remedies for psoriasis pain. It should be taken when you experience flaking, itching, redness, and burning sensations in affected areas, especially during winter months or cold weather. Other examples include Natrum mur., Sulphur, Graphites, and Sepia, among others. Symptoms that these remedies should be taken for include pain, itching, and redness of affected areas. It should also be noted that because psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, homeopathic remedies are safe to take because they work by strengthening your immune system to fight the abnormal changes in your body. If you are willing to start homeopathic treatment for psoriasis, you can book an appointment through OHO Homeopathy with a registered homeopath!