Every year, 3 million people are diagnosed with psoriasis. If you are one of the sufferers, you know the itchy, cracked skin accompanied by bleeding and painful lesions causing soreness. It is like a plague with its raised areas of inflamed skin covered with silvery-white scaly skin. These areas are called plaques and are most commonly found on the elbows, knees, scalp, and back. Psoriasis is said to result from an abnormal immune reaction which causes a rapid buildup of skin cells. This forms scaly patches on the skin surface. Treatment aims at reducing the symptoms to slow the cell growth. Sadly, this horrible condition is usually life-long. Genetics are typically the link to the development of psoriasis in the body but triggers can cause the outbreak.
What can trigger psoriasis?
- Stress. Patients have long reported a link between stressful life events and the development of psoriasis. Scientists now believe they are both related to the process of inflammation within the body, and one can exacerbate the other. This can create a vicious cycle since the disease itself often causes psychological stress for the patient.
- Try to eliminate stress as much as possible.
- Get regular exercise, meditate, and allow for plenty of sleep.
- Talking to your doctor, a friend, or a support group can also be beneficial.
- Skin Trauma. Injury to the skin triggers the development of psoriasis in that area. This includes cuts and bruises, as well as things like bug bites, sunburn, and tattoos. Even more subtle damage to the skin such as shaving or scratching. To avoid this, be careful with your skin.
- Keep it covered when appropriate.
- Be cautious while shaving.
- Don’t pick at scabs.
- Notify your doctor if you notice any signs or symptoms of skin infection.
- Infection and Medications. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder. Other things that affect the immune system, such as infection, can cause a psoriasis flare. Guttate psoriasis, the second most common type of psoriasis, is often triggered by the streptococcus bacteria, the kind that causes strep throat. Also, go to the doctor to have a strep test if you develop this kind of psoriasis. These medications can bring on an outbreak:
- Lithium, which is often used for the manic-depressive disorder.
- Beta-blockers such as propranolol which are used to treat high blood pressure.
- Antimalarials used to prevent and treat malaria.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as naproxen and indomethacin.
- Alcohol and Smoking. Alcohol can have a negative effect on the immune system, as well as organs such as the heart, liver, and intestines. The combined effect of this can result in the manifestation of skin disease, such as psoriasis. Additionally, studies have shown alcohol abuse is associated with poorer response to psoriasis treatment.
- The chemicals in cigarettes may affect the immune system and skin inflammation.
- If you are hoping to clear yourself of psoriasis lesions, don’t smoke.
- One study showed that 78% of individuals who experienced a remission from psoriasis were non-smokers, as opposed to 22% of smokers.
- Weather. Many patients experience psoriasis flares during the fall and winter months. This is often due to the cold and dry air, as well as the decreased exposure to sunlight that can help alleviate symptoms. Psoriasis can act up even in the summer as the result of very hot conditions, too much time in the sun, or spending a lot of time in dry, air-conditioned buildings.
- Always use sunscreen.
- Moisturize your skin well and avoid long, hot showers.
- Make sure to drink plenty of fluids to keep your skin hydrated.
- Consider using a humidifier at home as well.
Seek medical advice if your signs and symptoms worsen or don’t improve with treatment. You may need a different medication or a combination of treatments to manage psoriasis.
The Mediterranean Diet is recommended for anyone with psoriasis.
Ref. WebMD, inhealth/CNN.com, mayoclinic.org, medicinenet.com
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