An introduction to the treatment of psoriasis
Psoriasis is often considered a difficult condition to treat, as there are so many varying factors to take into account, from your immune function to your liver health.
Typically, most conventional medicines aspire to relieve the external symptoms while natural and herbal solutions try to take a look at your diet, stress levels and other internal issues in order to deal with the root of the problem.
There are many different psoriasis remedies available, some of which have been tried and tested for decades.
It’s important to note though, that the effectiveness of these solutions may vary from person to person and it is always important to speak to your doctor if you feel that your symptoms are declining or you notice anything out of the ordinary.
- Relax: As we have already discussed, stress and visible skin conditions often form a vicious cycle, with one symptom usually exaggerating and inspiring the other. If you have silvery plaques covering your arms, itching like crazy it can be difficult to think objectively and remain calm. However, stress can negatively impact many different areas of your body, from your immune system to your sleep cycle, your digestion and your liver function. You have to find some way of trying to soothe your nerves, whether it involves taking time out of your busy routine to focus on yourself or practicing meditation. It’s amazing what some time to yourself can do for your moods, especially if you’re participating in an activity that you enjoy, like reading a good book or going for a nice walk. Gentle exercises such as yoga can also be very useful for keeping you relaxed as, like meditation, it encourages proper breathing techniques and can teach you how to master your mind and take control over your body
- Good nutrition: Your diet can have a direct impact on the severity of your psoriasis symptoms so it is imperative that you consider what you are putting into your body and how it will influence your skin condition. You should by trying to support your body by increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables. These are usually rich in anti-oxidant vitamins which are great at supporting the immune system and improving your liver function and aiding in the filtering of toxins. You could try increasing your daily portion of fruit and vegetables by blitzing up one of our smoothies! Try replacing sugary snacks with dried fruit and eating more wholemeal foods as these normally contain essential B vitamins that can help your digestion. Try to keep dairy products to a minimum as these can sometimes enable the production of histamine. If you are a coffee addict, you could always try to replace your morning cuppa with our natural coffee substitute, Bambu, which is also a great source of potassium! Remember to drink plenty of fluids and try to reduce your intake of alcohol, as it can often have unfortunate effects on your skin
- Avoid irritants: If you suffer from psoriasis, you should be aware that some lifestyle habits can increase your susceptibility to the condition. Smoking, for example, is a prime offender. Not only is it terrible overall for your general health but it can irritate the skin and make you more vulnerable to episodes of psoriasis. You should also take care during the summer months when you are exposed to the sun – UV radiation can irritate and dry out your skin, triggering an outbreak of psoriasis. Try to cover up and remember to use plenty of sunscreen. Keeping your skin hydrated is essential, so remember to moisturise, drink plenty of water and avoid environments with low humidity
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil is a commonplace remedy for many different skin conditions, usually due to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. You can apply the oil to soothe skin irritation, soften scaling and reduce swelling; however it is important to remember to dilute the oil first before using topically. If you are interested in tea tree oil, then check out Your Health Food Store for an intriguing range of products
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal has long been used in the treatment of itchy skin conditions because of its role in exfoliating the skin. It has been known to reduce inflammation, redness and remove excess skin cells from the epidermal layer. You can mix oatmeal with water until it forms a paste and apply topically to your skin or you can try adding a couple of handfuls to your evening bath in order to ease your symptoms before you go to bed
- Olive oil: Olive oil is rich in vitamin E, an excellent anti-oxidant for your skin that helps to protect your skin from damage and strengthen the skin membranes. It can also act as an anti-inflammatory and even hydrate your skin, locking in moisture and calming symptoms of irritation and itchiness.1A study conducted by the University of Shiraz in Iran even found that olive oil could be potentially beneficial for burns.2 Apply in small quantities to the affected areas on your skin or even add a couple of tablespoons of the oil to your evening bath
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera is a faithful ingredient in most skincare products and has been used for centuries in the treatment of mild burns. This remedy is particularly effective because of its anti-sceptic, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to support the skin cells, increasing their healing time and softening the thick layer of skin on the epidermis. Apply topically to the affected areas of your body but remember to dilute first if you suffer from sensitive skin. Check out Your Health Food Store for a variety of aloe vera products that might help to give your skin the attention it deserves.
Herbal remedies have been used as an alternative to conventional medicines for years, often seen as a solution to the side-effects associated with most traditional medication.
While we have an excellent range of natural products to help you deal with the symptoms of psoriasis, it is still important that you seek medical attention if you feel that your symptoms are intensifying or becoming more and more persistent.
- Neem Cream: Neem is a plant renowned for its soothing and beneficial properties for your skin. Neem Cream is made using extracts of neem leaves and can be applied topically to the affected area in order ease any itchiness and hydrate dry or damaged skin. If you find that psoriasis is appearing in your scalp, you can always try Neem Shampoo. Just remember that neem is unsuitable for pregnant women and those who suffer from nut allergies
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is crucial for supporting your immune system and strengthening our skin cells, being a powerful anti-oxidant that is frequently involved in the formation of collagen. Its anti-inflammatory properties can help to relieve the swelling and redness associated with psoriasis and, as vitamin C cannot be produced naturally by your body, it must be absorbed from your food or supplements like Nature-C. Nature-C can be taken by anyone over the age of 6 and is made using natural fruit extracts, making it an excellent alternative if you feel that you need to up your intake of vitamin C
- Milk Thistle: Since your liver plays a pivotal role in the development of psoriasis, it is only natural that you should take steps to support it and keep it working smoothly. Milk Thistle works to encourage the health of your liver and to support a good liver function. This remedy can be taken by anyone over the age of 18 but may be unsuitable if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
- AvenaCalm: Not only can stress be extremely debilitating, it can increase your chances of developing psoriasis and exacerbate any existing symptoms that you are suffering from. Taking a natural stress remedy like AvenaCalm can help you to feel more relaxed and since it is an organic herbal stress remedy, you are unlikely to suffer any of side-effects associated with convention stress medicines. You can take this solution if you are feeling anxious or stressed but if you feel your psychological symptoms are becoming more intense, it might be worth trying Stress Relief Daytime, or consulting your doctor if you feel that you are starting to suffer from an episode of Depression
- Dormeasan®: Unlike traditional sleeping pills, Dormeasan® does not interfere with your sleep cycle but instead tries to support it, meaning that it will not leave you feel drowsy and irritable the next day. Since having a good night of sleep can reduce your stress levels and allow your body to heal, this can go a long way towards improving your psoriasis symptoms. Made from natural extracts of Valerian and Hops, Dormeasan can be taken by adults who are not pregnant, breastfeeding or taking medication that is impaired by the consumption of alcohol.
If you suffer from psoriasis, you should always consult your doctor in order to have your condition assessed.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, it is likely that your GP will recommend you a course of over the counter medicines like emollients, prescribe you stronger topical creams or even refer you to a dermatologist.
You should always take any medication exactly as specified by your doctor but you should also be aware of the side-effects that can be inspired by conventional medicines and not be afraid to return to your doctor if you notice any of them manifesting either internally or externally.
- Emollients: Emollients are powerful moisturisers that are normally used in the treatment of dry, itchy skin conditions like psoriasis. There are a number of variants used to treat different types of skin conditions, however not all emollients are guaranteed to work, and some can even exaggerate your symptoms if your skin takes a reaction to them. It might be worthwhile speaking to your doctor if you suffer from sensitive skin so that you can both work out which emollient might be best suited for you
- Steroid creams: Steroid creams are a more intense alternative to emollients and are usually prescribed by a doctor. You can take this medication to alleviate the swelling associated with psoriasis but you should always be aware not to take steroid creams persistently over a long period of time. This is because steroid based medication normally comes with a host of unpleasant side-effects if you continue taking them for too long. If you feel as though this medicine is worsening your symptoms, you should consult your doctor immediately
- Phototherapy: Phototherapy is a treatment that involves using artificial and natural light to slow down the production of skin cells and make your skin more susceptible to other medication. This solution is usually only available if it is recommended by a dermatologist and should not be confused with the artificial UV lights involved with sunbeds. If you are interested in this treatment, you should try speaking to your doctor who might be able to refer you to a dermatologist for a second opinion
- Anti-depressants: If your doctor feels that your psoriasis symptoms are having an extremely detrimental effect on your psychological wellbeing, they might prescribe you a course of anti-depressants. This form of medication can be risky though, usually because not all anti-depressants are compatible with your body. Some might produce unwanted side-effects that may even make you feel more apprehensive and unhappy, so you may be forced to try a few different variants before you find one that works for you.