Overview of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is noncontagious, chronic, inflammatory skin disease. It is not curable but can be controlled with certain medications. Psoriasis is a condition that produces plaques of thickened, scaling skin. It is a long-term inflammatory skin disease. Its symptoms include red patches of skin, small scaling spots, itching soreness and burning sensation, etc. The problem usually occurs on elbow, palm, knee, and scalp, but can also occur in other parts of the body.
Psoriasis is of different types such as Plaque Psoriasis/Psoriasis Vulgaris (common plaque type), inverse, pustular, guttate, etc. From all types, the Plaque psoriasis is most common. Few of the causes of psoriasis are immune system, genetics, obesity, environmental factors, stress, heavy alcohol consumption, certain medications, etc. The condition can be treated with the help of certain home remedies and medications.
- Itching, soreness, and burning sensation
- Painful, swollen and stiff joints
- Dry and cracked skin that may bleed
- Thick, pitted or ridged nails
- Red patches of skin
- Red, inflamed skin covered with silver-white scales
- Small scaling spots (common in children)
- Immune system
- Environmental factors
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Viral infection
- Bacterial infection
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Skin injury (severe sunburn, bud bite, etc.)
- Certain medications
- Follow a healthy and balanced diet
- Lose weight (if overweight)
- Avoid alcohol
- Quit smoking
- Reduce stress
- Maintain healthy weight
- Consider taking vitamins
- Avoid foods that can cause inflammation (dairy products, processed foods, refined sugar, etc.)
- Take daily baths
- Use moisturizer
- Expose your skin to less amount of sunlight
- Exercise regularly
1. Epsom salt
Epsom salt has unique properties. It is magnesium sulfate and very effective for skin disorders. Due to the high amount of magnesium in Epsom salt, it is very good for relaxation and detoxification. It softens the scaling which occurs during psoriasis. It also relieves burning sensation and itching. Soaking the body in Epsom salt also boosts the magnesium level of the body.
- Add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt to a bathtub with warm water. Soak in it for few minutes. Then dry your skin using a soft towel and apply moisturizer. Do this twice or thrice in a week.
2. Olive Oil
Olive oil is a very effective remedy for the treatment of psoriasis. Polyphenols present in olive oil makes is effective for treating and preventing psoriasis. It softens the skin and also reduces flakes and scaling.
- Warm a little olive oil and apply it gently over the affected area. Do this daily for few days.
- Another option is to add 1 drop of oregano oil, 2 drops of calendula oil to a cup of olive oil. Apply it to the affected area. Leave it for few minutes and then wash it off.
Garlic has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also helps to prevent infection because of its antimicrobial property. Garlic is a very effective remedy against psoriasis. Eating garlic and its external application, both are effective.
- Mix aloe vera gel and garlic oil in equal amounts. Apply it to the affected area. Leave it there for few minutes and then wash it off with normal water. Do it daily for few days to see the improvement.
- Another option is to eat 2-3 garlic cloves daily. If you don’t like its taste or smell, garlic supplement can also be used.
The treatment will depend on various factors such as the causes, type, and severity of the condition. Psoriasis has no cure. Treatment options help to clear the skin and reduce inflammation. Treatment of psoriasis falls into 3 main categories:
- Topical Treatments
- Systemic (Oral/Injected) Medications
- Light Therapy
1. Topical treatment
It includes creams or ointments which are applied directly to the skin. It helps to reduce mild to moderate psoriasis. Topical psoriasis treatments include:
- Topical Corticosteroids: It includes steroids such as hydrocortisone. These are usually prescribed for treating mild to moderate psoriasis. It is used to reduce inflammation and itching.
- Calcineurin inhibitors: It includes pimecrolimus (Elidel) and tacrolimus (Prograf). It is usually prescribed for plaque buildup and reduce inflammation. It is used in case of mild psoriasis.
- Anthralin: It is prescribed to slow down the skin cell growth. It helps to make skin smoother and remove scales. It is available in the form of an ointment, paste or even cream.
- Vitamin D Analogues: It includes calcipotriene (Dovonex) and calcitriol (Vectical). These are a synthetic form of Vitamin D prescribed to slow down the skin cell growth. It is prescribed for treating mild to moderate psoriasis along with other treatments.
- Moisturizers: Moisturizers help to reduce the scaling, dryness, and itching, but is not effective to treat psoriasis alone. Moisturizers with a therapeutic concentration of lactic acid, urea, salicylic acid and glycolic acid may be more helpful in psoriasis.
- Coal Tar: Coal tar helps to reduce itching, inflammation, and scaling. It is available in multiple preparations such as creams, shampoo, and even bath solutions.
2. Oral/Injected Medications
It is known as a systemic treatment. This treatment is prescribed in case of severe psoriasis. It includes:
- Methotrexate: Methotrexate (Trexall, Rheumatrex) is very common medicine used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It is prescribed for psoriasis to decrease the production of skin cells and suppress inflammation.
- Retinoids: It includes retinoids such as acitretin (Soriatane). Retinoids are related to vitamin A and are prescribed in the case of severe psoriasis where other treatment options don’t work.
- Cyclosporine: Cyclosporine (Neoral, Gengraf) is an immunosuppressant drug. It is usually prescribed in case of severe psoriasis where other treatment options don’t work.
- Biologics: It includes medications that are prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe psoriasis. It includes infliximab (Remicade), etanercept (Enbrel), adalimumab (Humira), apremilast (Otezla), ustekinumab (Stelara), golimumab (Simponi), ixekizumab (Taltz), secukinumab (Cosentyx), Brodalumab (Siliq), Guselkumab (Tremfya) and abatacept (Orencia).
3. Light Therapy
It is also known as phototherapy. Natural or artificial ultraviolet light is used in this treatment. Best and easiest form of light therapy is exposing of skin to the controlled amount of natural sunlight. There are several types of light therapy, it includes:
- Sunlight: Small amount of daily exposure to sunlight helps to improve psoriasis. It helps to slow down the skin cell turnover and also reduces inflammation and scaling.
- UVB Phototherapy: It is also known as broadband UVB. It improves mild to moderate psoriasis symptoms. It is also used in case of the widespread condition and when topical treatments don’t work.
Few other types of light therapy include Goeckerman Regimen therapy, narrowband UVB phototherapy, psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) and others.