If you have psoriasis, then you know how uncomfortable this skin condition can be. Psoriasis causes skin cells to grow ten times faster than usual, which results in red patches covered with white scales on the skin. Though it is not contagious, the unsightly red patches on the skin can be itchy and unsightly. Psoriasis can be present anywhere on the body, though it is most often found on the elbows, lower back, scalp, and knees. Unfortunately, the cause of psoriasis is mostly still unknown.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, and it is considered a hereditary condition. Events that can trigger an outbreak may include stress, surgery, medications, or even a strep infection. If you or someone you know has psoriasis, there are some tips you can implement to help manage your symptoms.
One treatment that can help with psoriasis symptoms is light therapy. This treatment is also known as phototherapy and occurs by shining ultraviolet (UV) light on the skin. Depending on where the psoriasis outbreak is, your doctor will either target specific areas or the entire body. The light helps to slow down the rapid skin cell production and therefore reduce the red and flaky patches on the skin.
This form of therapy can be intensive. A person with psoriasis will likely undergo light treatment a few times a week over a period of two to three months. This may help symptoms subside or send psoriasis into remission for up to a year. Similar to laying out in the sun, light therapy can cause sunburn, blisters, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Some medications, like antibiotics, will not mix well with light therapy and can cause unwanted side effects. Be sure to speak with your doctor about all medicines that you are taking to ensure an effective and safe treatment.
As an autoimmune condition, an outbreak of psoriasis can be triggered by emotional stress. For those who have psoriasis, it is imperative to make changes to your lifestyle that will help you to lower or manage stress, thus giving you some control over your psoriasis symptoms. Of course, having psoriasis can be a cause of stress in and of itself. Working with your doctor and implementing natural practices at home can help you gain a feeling of control over your psoriasis.
Ways to lower stress may be different for every person. For some, it involves getting plenty of exercise through activities like yoga, running, or pilates. For others, it might be making changes in their daily schedule to be more organize and time-efficient. Sometimes stress can be lowered by talking to a therapist or ensuring some fun-time in your calendar for things like dinner with friends or a weekend away.
You might be familiar with melatonin as a tool to fight jetlag or as a method to ensure a restful night’s sleep. Melatonin is a hormone naturally occurring in the body that helps to regulate sleep and let your body know when it is time to go to bed, and when it is time to wake up. People who want to adjust to a new time zone or simply treat insomnia may take melatonin to help their body adjust. However, melatonin’s usefulness can go beyond merely getting a good night’s rest.
Melatonin can help to regulate immune function, and this is where its connection to psoriasis comes in. Studies have shown that patients with psoriasis have significantly lower melatonin levels at night than patients without. By taking melatonin, it may assist in the severity of the outbreak. While melatonin is available over the counter in the United States, you will want to check with your doctor regarding its safety and effectiveness for your specific needs. Knowing what dose to take and when to take it can be critical in its overall effectiveness.
Nice warm baths have been a solution for many ailments, from a simple common cold to a long stressful day. However, a bath can help someone suffering from psoriasis too. Hot water may trigger or irritate the skin, though a lukewarm bath filled with Epsom salt, olive oil, and even milk may help to calm the skin and soothe symptoms such as itching. Do not confuse Epsom salt with your typical table salt! Most likely, Epsom salt was given its name due to its white granular shape and similarity to salt.
Epsom salt is also known as magnesium sulfate, a compound comprised of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. When Epsom salt is put into warm water, it releases magnesium and sulfate ions. It is not entirely known if these are fully absorbed through the skin, but their external effects on the skin for psoriasis, arthritis, and other aches and pain is well-known. After the bath, be sure to moisturize your skin well.
Adjusting your diet can have significant effects on your psoriasis. Some have seen weight gain as a trigger for psoriasis, so it is essential to remain at a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet complete with fruits and vegetables. Many people with psoriasis also believe that eliminating gluten and dairy from their diet has dramatically impacted their condition.
Perhaps most important is to eliminate tobacco and alcohol as they are known triggers for psoriasis. Smoking and drinking can make existing symptoms even more severe, and in general, do not promote a healthy lifestyle. Alcohol can also be dangerous if you are using certain medications to treat psoriasis, so be sure to check with your doctor.
The symptoms of psoriasis may only be exacerbated by dry skin, so keeping your skin well-moisturized is imperative. For many people, the solution may be an intense lotion that your dermatologist or doctor may recommend. For others, coconut oil or olive oil may be an excellent, all-natural, and cost-effective solution to keeping your skin well hydrated. Using a humidifier also helps to add moisture in the air and prevent dry skin from forming.
Managing psoriasis is not always easy, and you may have to try out different at-home treatments and methods to ease your symptoms before you land on what works best for you. By implementing some accessible practices like an Epsom salt bath, healthier diet, increased sport, light therapy, and even melatonin, you may notice reduced severity in your outbreaks. With some effort, you will likely be able to reduce your discomfort from psoriasis, though you must discuss all treatment options with your doctor.