Imagine living each day wondering if you will have to endure another psoriasis flare up. Wondering where it would show up and how long it will last. If you have psoriasis (or no someone that does), you know exactly how it feels. For those of you who don’t, you can never imagine what life is like. Just like our previous blog on eczema, the feelings a person goes through mentally and physically is loneliness and despair. A person feels embarrassed when their flare up is visible to others. Their self-esteem takes a hit and causes them to seclude themselves from others. This is a challenging way to live.
This week we will learn what psoriasis is and what we can do to minimize the symptoms to live a better life. So without further ado, let’s begin.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a disorder of the immune system. The most common type is plaque psoriasis as it produces thick, red, itchy patches on the skin. With normal skin, your body takes about 28 to 30 days to produce new skin cells and shed the old ones. When your body has plaque psoriasis, your immune system is overactive, triggering skin inflammation and causing skin cells to be produced faster than normal. New skin cells are pushed to the skin's surface in 3 to 4 days instead of the usual 28 to 30.
Your body can't shed the new skin cells at that fast of a rate. So while new skin cells are being produced, the old, dead skin cells pile up on top of each other. As more and more new skin cells are produced rapidly, the old skin cells are pushed to the surface, forming the thick, red, itchy, flaky patches known as plaques. In other words, this causes a “traffic jam” of skin cells at the surface of the skin.
There are also several other forms of psoriasis, including nail or scalp psoriasis, mild psoriasis, sever psoriasis, postular psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis, and guttate psoriasis.
What causes Psoriasis?
Although psoriasis is a genetic disorder, the exact cause is unknown. Doctors do know is that your immune system gets "turned on" by mistake, and then doesn't know how to turn itself off.
You see, there are small proteins in our immune system called cytokines. Think of cytokines as messengers between immune cells. If you have psoriasis, at any moment your cytokines can start sending out messages that they shouldn't. And one of those messages is: make more skin cells than normal…..and more…….and more.
As more skin cells are made, they push to the surface of the skin, but then don't have anywhere to go, so they build up. That's when your skin can get red and inflamed, and become thick and flaky.
Since your immune system isn't confined to one spot in your body, there's no predicting where psoriasis will appear on the skin. But whether it's your elbow one month, and then your lower back another (it can appear in “intimate areas” as well), the same thing is happening. Skin cells are piling up on the skin's surface, and your body can't shed them as fast as you make them. The result is the only part of psoriasis you can actually see, a plaque.
Psoriasis is a chronic disease, meaning that it doesn't go away. Plaques may come and go, but your psoriasis is still there, active inside your body.
Who can get Psoriasis?
Anyone. Psoriasis is caused by a combination of different factors. Doctors are unsure on what exactly leads most people to develop psoriasis, but research suggests that the major contributing factors include:
• Genetics — scientists have now identified about 25 genetic variants that make a person more likely to develop psoriasis.
• High amounts of physical or emotional stress
• Eating a poor diet and having difficulty digesting fats and protein
• Hormonal changes (such as puberty, pregnancy or menopause)
• Deficiency in certain nutrients, such as vitamin D deficiency
• Poor liver function
• Reactions to medications and over-the-counter pain pills (such as Advil, Motrin, blood pressure prescriptions, beta-blockers, etc.)
What natural ways can you treat psoriasis flare ups?
It is noted that many people see great improvements in their symptoms when they clean up their diets and boost their nutrient intake. I know, I know, some on you are probably rolling your eyes right now because most likely you have heard this before. I will not sit here and preach that I have the best diet on this planet, but I do eat much better than I have in the past due to my skin issues.
Some of the best foods for helping ease psoriasis symptoms and lower autoimmune reactions include:
Experts encourage eating an anti-inflammatory diet:
Probiotic foods: Raw, cultured dairy (like kefir, amasai, and yogurt) plus cultured vegetable support digestion, reduce inflammation and boost immunity.
High-fiber foods: Fiber is found in just about all plant foods that are high in nutrients and antioxidants, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, sprouted legumes and seeds/nuts.
Wild-caught fish: Salmon, mackerel, sardines and halibut are examples of fish high anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.
Foods high in zinc: Zinc is critical for keeping skin healthy. Good sources include pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, seeds and legumes.
Foods high in vitamin D and vitamin A: Brightly colored veggies and fruit are your best source of vitamin A, including leafy greens, berries and broccoli. Research shows that vitamin A is critical for skin healing and acts like an antioxidant that reduces inflammation. Vitamin D affects the immune system and skin cells in positive ways and can be obtained from cage-free eggs, raw milk and certain mushrooms.
Moisturizers - By hydrating dry skin, moisturizers help to soften the thickened skin. Experts state that petroleum jelly is a popular option for moisturizing dry plaques on the skin. I for one do not believe petroleum is moisturizing but it is great at locking in moisture. I recommend always using a water based lotion/moisturizer to penetrate as deep into your skin as possible. Then you can follow up with an oil/butter based moisturizer or petroleum based product to seal in moisture.
When focusing on your diet and topical needs, these can greatly decrease the effects/symptoms of psoriasis.
Home Care - Last week in our blog about eczema, I gave you several tips you can to support your skin health and alleviate symptoms. Most of those tips apply to psoriasis as well, therefore I’m reposting this info below.
• Take lukewarm baths (add oatmeal to relieve itching) as hot baths will dry out your skin.
• Exfoliate to remove dead skin prior to bathing. It will also allow your moisturizer to better penetrate.
• Applying moisturizer within 3 minutes of bathing to "lock in" moisture.
• Moisturize every day (throughout the day if needed). You never want to give your skin the opportunity to be dry.
• Wearing cotton and soft fabrics, and avoiding rough, scratchy fibers and tight-fitting clothing.
• Using a mild soap or a non-soap cleanser when washing.
• Air drying or gently patting skin dry with a towel, rather than rubbing the skin dry after bathing.
• Where possible, avoid rapid changes of temperature and activities that make you sweat.
• Using a humidifier in dry or cold weather.
• Keeping fingernails short to prevent scratching from breaking the skin.
How can Luxurious Bath Boutique help?
I can definitely say that the Ash collection from LBB would be great for Psoriasis sufferers as well. You can read more about the Ash collection in last week’s blog here. This week we are introducing a new product to the Ash collection, Ash with Pine Tar!
Pine Tar is such as wonderful ingredient for the skin and if you have eczema or psoriasis, you may want to give it a try.
Pine Tar has been used for over 100 years to treat eczema, psoriasis and other forms of dermatitis as it has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It moisturizes dry, scaly skin and helps it heal. It is safe to use anywhere on the face and body, and is also used in shampoo.
Dry, flaky scalp conditions that cause dandruff respond to very well to pine tar soap. The pine tar heals the scalp and returns dry, itchy skin to normal, reducing or eliminating dandruff.
One of the frequently asked question I get as a cosmetologist is what can a person use to cover up flare ups when they occur on the face? Especially during this time of year, this is a critical time as we wear less clothing this time of year which exposes our skin. Some people feel they cannot use make up or just don’t know how to apply it.
There are makeups made to hide skin issues like psoriasis. If you are concerned about applying make-up over your psoriasis, I encourage you to talk with your doctor about a good product for you. Some of you may want to consider thickness as you’ll need a thicker makeup for larger patches that are harder to hide.
I have put together an easy to follow sheet with how to apply make-up over your psoriasis to feel beautiful and carefree throughout your day. To get your copy, complete the below and it will immediately be emailed to you.
I hope this week’s blog has been helpful in understanding what psoriasis is, what we can do to live a better life by either minimizing flare-ups or how to cover them up when they appear. Note, this blog in no way is meant for you to disregard medical advice from your physician. It is meant to bring a little more clarity/help to those seeking more information on the subject.
If you or someone has psoriasis, please submit any questions you have regarding it below or share any tips, tricks, advice on the subject. We all can learn from one another.
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Until next time,