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The irritation, the soreness, the
pain, a burning sensation, and even
bleeding from psoriasis can, at times,
become almost unbearable and can
greatly impact a person’s quality of
life. According to Dr.Muhsen Kalaji,
a dermatologist and member of
American Academy of Dermatology
at Obagi MediSpa, psoriasis is
essentially an immune-mediated
disease that affects the skin. “It is
typically a lifelong condition,” he
says for which, unfortunately at the
moment, there is no cure. “However
the good news is that various
treatments can help to control the
symptoms,” he tells. There is also the
emotional aspect of psoriasis. Not
surprisingly, studies have shown that
people with psoriasis have higher
rates of depression, anxiety, and
anger. In one study, 75 percent of
participants reported that psoriasis
undermined their confidence and
decreased their quality of life.
Psoriasis, tells Dr. Kalaji, is commonly
seen as red and white scaly patches
with an occasional silvery-white
appearance appearing on the top
first layer of the skin. “And actually
there are no specific pre-warning
signs, but we should suspect chronic
recurring localized patches on the
skin of someone who already has a
family history of psoriasis,” he says.
“As psoriasis is genetic, this means
that the family history is important.”
Skin cells usually take about 21 to
28 days to replace themselves, but
in cases of psoriasis, this process
can accelerate to only 2 to 6 days.
And despite the fact that it is not a
contagious disorder, people with the
condition can sometimes suffer from
social exclusion and discrimination.
However Dr. Kalaji is quick to point
out that many cases are also acquired
as psoriasis is also triggered by stress,
certain medications, as well as injury
to the skin may lead to a psoriatic
lesion, and even environmental
factors have been suggested as
aggravating to psoriasis. “Climate can
have a big effect on psoriasis,” he says
as for a lot of people, cold and dry
weather can make the symptoms of
psoriasis worse.
Those at High Risk
Psoriasis affects approximately three
percent of people. It can start at any
age, but most often develops between
the ages of 11 and 45, often at puberty.
There appears to be a strong genetic
link to psoriasis and it therefore
tends to run in families. This
genetic tendency is often triggered
by infection, certain medicines,
including ibuprofen and lithium
as well as by psychological factors,
including stress or skin trauma.
There is no way of predicting who
will develop psoriasis and in fact,
well over half of the people who first
experience it do not know of anyone
else in their family who has had it.
There are a number of different
treatment options for psoriasis,
tells Dr. Kalaji. “Typically topical
agents are used for mild disease,
phototherapy for moderate disease,
and systemic agents for severe
disease,” he says. Lots of products
claim to reduce psoriasis but few
actually work and some can make it
even worse. Some of Dr. Kalaji’s tips
for helping avoid psoriasis include
avoiding alcohol and smoking,
managing weight and stress, sleeping
well and exercising, which in a
nutshell means to live a healthy
Dietary Tweaks
Low energy diets and vegetarian
diets have improved psoriasis
symptoms in some studies and diets
supplemented with fish oil (or cod
liver oil) have also shown beneficial
effects, stresses Dr. Kalaji. In fact,
for some individuals suffering from
psoriasis, certain foods may affect
their psoriasis symptoms. And
experts advise that while there is no
particular ‘Psoriasis Diet,’ still people
with psoriasis should try to eat a
healthy diet. In fact, many experts
claim that although foods are not
necessarily the cause of psoriasis,
certain foods can trigger or worsen
an outbreak. These include coffee,
red meat, sugar and gluten. On
the other hand, foods such as fish,
walnuts, fruits, vegetables and plenty
of filtered water are recommended to
keep the skin healthy. Herbs that can
help ease psoriasis include burdock,
nettles, calendula, and chamomile.
Supplements that help psoriasis
include vitamin D and vitamin A.
These fat-soluble vitamins work to
reduce the over proliferation of skin
cells. An inexpensive old-fashioned
remedy that neatly combines these
vitamins is Cod Liver Oil as well as
Omega 3 fatty acids which are both
very effective.
Showering and bathing
can improve psoriasis
lesions by softening
and hydrating the thick,
scaly patches however
avoid staying in the
water too long as this
can dry out your skin
and lead to more itching
and flaking.
Avoid using hot water
while bathing and
instead use lukewarm
water, because hot
water increases blood
flow to the skin, which
can make psoriasis
plaques more red and
It is also important to
use a non-irritating
Use a moisturizer with
rich emollients, such
as glycerine and Shea
Since psoriasis is often
itchy, it’s recommended
to avoid clothing made
with wool and synthetic
fibres, which can trap
heat and further irritate
skin that’s already
inflamed. Instead
opt for loose-fitting,
soft clothing made
of lightweight natural
fibres such as cotton
and linen which breathe
and will not rub against
irritated skin.
Jan/Feb 2014