Ultimate Guide: How to Get Rid of Psoriasis with Proven Methods

April 11, 2024

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Psoriasis is a common autoimmune condition that causes skin cells to grow too quickly, resulting in itchy, flaky patches that can crack and bleed. An estimated 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis, which currently has no cure. However, with the right treatment plan, most people can effectively manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. This article provides an in-depth look at psoriasis causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and both conventional and natural treatment options.

What Exactly is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic, non-contagious skin condition characterized by rapid buildup of skin cells. This causes reddened patches of skin covered with silvery-white scales, typically on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back. These areas can become very itchy and may crack and bleed.

While symptoms range from mild to severe, psoriasis generally follows a fluctuating course, flaring up for weeks to months at a time and then going into remission. The most common variety, called plaque psoriasis, accounts for 80 to 90 percent of cases. Other less common types include guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic psoriasis.

What Causes Psoriasis?

Research shows psoriasis results from a dysfunction of the immune system. Normally, T-cells (a type of white blood cell) trigger healthy skin cell turnover. In psoriasis patients, these T-cells become overactive, accelerating skin cell growth dramatically. New skin cells move to the surface in days rather than weeks. These immature cells build up, causing raised, red lesions characteristic of psoriasis.

Genetic predisposition is a key factor. Up to 40 percent of patients inherit one or more genes that make them susceptible. However, psoriasis genes must be “turned on” by some kind of trigger. Known triggers include:

  • Stress – One of the most common triggers, it can initiate or worsen flares.
  • Skin injuries – Cuts, burns, vaccinations and severe sunburns can trigger a new outbreak of psoriasis.
  • Medications – Anti-malarials, lithium, beta blockers and NSAIDs have been associated with psoriasis flares.
  • Infection – Strep throat is known to precede guttate psoriasis breakouts. HIV, skin and upper respiratory infections may also play a role.
  • Hormones – Psoriasis often worsens around puberty, menopause and after pregnancy. This suggests a hormonal link.
  • Weather – Cold, dry weather tends to worsen psoriasis symptoms.
  • Lifestyle choices – Excess alcohol consumption, smoking and obesity may worsen symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Psoriasis

Symptoms of psoriasis vary greatly from person to person. Some people may have just a few scattered plaques, while others have lesions that cover large portions of the body. The most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Plaques of thick, red skin covered with silvery-white scales – Often seen on elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms and feet but can appear anywhere on the body.
  • Itching and burning sensations – The urge to scratch can be intense, especially at night or during flare-ups. Scratching usually makes things worse.
  • Painful, cracked skin – The skin may split open and bleed, allowing bacteria to enter and cause infection.
  • Pitting, yellowing nails – Up to 50% of people with plaque psoriasis get pitting, ridges and discoloration of nails.
  • Joint pain and swelling – About 30% of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis.

Because symptoms are so variable, a thorough exam and health history are critical for making an accurate diagnosis. In some cases, a skin biopsy or other test may be required to rule out conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, ringworm and skin cancer.

Conventional Psoriasis Treatment Options

While there is no cure for psoriasis yet, conventional treatments can effectively control symptoms. The type of medication prescribed depends largely on body surface area affected and severity of the disease. Treatment options include:

  • Topical creams and ointments – For mild to moderate psoriasis, steroid creams, Vitamin D replicas, retinoids and moisturizers can reduce inflammation and plaques.
  • Phototherapy – Controlled doses of natural ultraviolet light slow skin cell turnover and reduce scaling and inflammation.
  • Oral medications – If topicals fail to control flares, oral drugs like methotrexate, cyclosporine and acitretin may be prescribed. These powerful immunosuppressants ease symptoms but have risky side effects.
  • Biologic drugs – The latest class of medications, known as biologics, block immune system activity that contributes to psoriasis. While highly effective, they also suppress the immune system and permit potentially fatal infections.

Most patients try different therapies over a lifetime to determine which ones keep their psoriasis symptoms at bay with minimal side effects. Working closely with one’s dermatologist is key to developing an effective treatment regimen.

Lifestyle Changes and Natural Remedies for Psoriasis

Conventional psoriasis medications can cause undesirable side effects, so many patients also incorporate natural strategies into treatment:

  • Moisturize liberally – Hydrating damaged skin with thicker creams and ointments helps reduce scaling and soothe painful cracks. Occlusion at night boosts absorption.
  • Avoid triggers – Prevent flares by identifying and avoiding triggers like stress, fatigue and skin irritants. Learning relaxation techniques can help lower stress.
  • Take dietary supplements – Some patients find probiotics, omega-3s fish oils, evening primrose oil, milk thistle and Oregon grape helpful in reducing redness and scaling.
  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods – Focus diet on produce, plant oils and fatty fish like salmon. Avoid processed foods, dairy and gluten which may promote inflammation.
  • Soak in warm baths – Adding Epsom salt, colloidal oatmeal, olive oil or Dead Sea salts can help remove scales and calm inflamed skin without abrasion.
  • Expose skin to moderate sunlight – Brief, regular exposure to natural sunlight can significantly improve plaque psoriasis. Take precautions against sunburn.
  • Consider herbs – Herbs like aloe vera, Oregon grape, turmeric and ginger possess natural anti-inflammatory properties that may lessen psoriasis symptoms.
  • Explore acupuncture – Some psoriasis patients notice improvement after a course of acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture may help correct energy imbalances and modulate immunity.
  • Stay active – Regular exercise promotes circulation, lowers inflammation and stress levels, boosts immunity and leads to better sleep. All help ease psoriasis symptoms.

While most patients rely on medication to control flare ups, natural remedies and healthy lifestyle measures help limit psoriasis symptoms between outbreaks. Working closely with one’s healthcare team is key to developing an integrative treatment plan that results in the best possible relief.

Frequently Asked Questions About Psoriasis

What are early signs of psoriasis I should watch for?

Look for dry, reddened skin lesions that may itch or burn. Early plaques often appear on the scalp, elbows, knees or lower back before spreading. Pitting, discoloration or ridges in nails may signal psoriasis. Recognizing early signs leads to faster treatment, better control.

Is psoriasis contagious?

No, psoriasis cannot spread from person to person. It occurs when the immune system sends faulty signals that speed up skin cell growth. However, because psoriasis can run in families, a genetic predisposition may be inherited. Up to 40% of patients have a first-degree relative with the condition.

Can psoriasis go into remission permanently?

There is no cure for psoriasis yet. Even with aggressive treatment, a significant number of patients experience flares. About 10 to 30% will go into complete remission for years at a time. Periods of remission are more likely in those who develop psoriasis before age 20.

I have psoriasis. Will my children get it too?

Having a parent with psoriasis does raise your child’s risk somewhat. However, most psoriasis patients do not pass their genes down to their offspring. If one parent has psoriasis, a child has about a 15% chance of developing it. When both parents have it, risk rises to 50% or higher.

What foods should you avoid if you have psoriasis?

Alcohol, gluten, processed and fried foods, nightshades, red meat, sugar and dairy are common psoriasis trigger foods. An elimination diet helps pinpoint problem foods. Anti-inflammatory ones like produce, nuts, seeds, fatty fish and plant oils tend to improve symptoms. Staying adequately hydrated is also beneficial.

In Conclusion: Key Takeaways

  • Psoriasis results from overactive T-cells speeding up skin cell turnover, causing a scaly, inflammatory response.
  • While not contagious, genetic predisposition plays a role in about 40% of cases.
  • A number of triggers are known to initiate psoriasis flares, including infections, skin trauma, medications, stress and weather.
  • Managing medical and lifestyle triggers can limit outbreaks and improve remission rates.
  • Conventional treatments range from topical creams, phototherapy and oral medications to powerful biologic drugs that block disease pathways.
  • Natural remedies, supplements and lifestyle measures also help control symptoms, often limiting side effects.
  • With continued research, new medications offer hope that psoriasis may someday be curable.
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