What is Psoriasis – Causes, Home Remedies, Precautions

Psoriasis refers to a troubling skin condition characterised by symptoms like itchy areas on the skin and flaking. Although the causes of this inflammatory condition can be many, it is becoming increasingly common. The important thing to note is that psoriasis is an autoimmune condition wherein, the production of skin cells is accelerated and this leads to inflammation as well as itching. 

Psoriasis can occur on various parts of the body such as the scalp, knees, and elbows and around the mouth. It is also commonly associated with other medical conditions like diabetes and digestive issues.

CAUSES OF PSORIASIS

Although there is still some ambiguity about the exact causes, there are four main causes outlined by medical practitioners for psoriasis.

Genetics

Psoriasis can be a hereditary disease. Researchers state that there is a 10% chance of inheriting the genes for psoriasis. However, not everyone with those genes develops psoriasis. If someone in your family has a history then the chances of developing it increase slightly.

Immunity

When the immune system tends to attack its own cells, several health conditions can arise. Psoriasis can be one of them. When experiencing psoriasis, the immune system becomes overactive. This leads to inflammation and redness of the skin. In most cases, psoriasis is seen as an autoimmune disease.

Other health conditions

The chances of developing psoriasis may increase if one is already suffering from the following:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Cholesterol issues
  • Arthritis
  • Type 2 diabetes

Environmental conditions

Although, environmental conditions may not necessarily cause psoriasis, they can certainly aggravate it or trigger it. Dry and cold environments tend to trigger itching. Other environmental and outside factors like lack of moisture and skin injuries can lead to an outbreak. Excessive sun exposure or consumption of alcohol or other drugs can lead to flare-ups too. 

SYMPTOMS OF PSORIASIS

Psoriasis has very easily detectable symptoms:

  • Extreme itching
  • Dry skin flakes on the scalp.
  • Extremely brittle nails
  • Skin lesions – thatare extremely red and itchy.
  • Fungus on toes and fingernails
  • Dandruff patches on the scalp and other areas of the skin like armpits
  • Plaques of red skin
  • Crusts of skin which are white or silver in colour. 

HOME REMEDIES 

Fresh aloe Vera gel

Instead of purchasing the pre-packaged aloe Vera gel, it is better to extract some at home and use it as a treatment. This is because pre-packaged gels may contain additives and other oils which will not prove helpful.

You will need:

  • One leaf of aloe Vera
  • A knife

How to: 

  1. Slice the leaf from the centre.
  2. Now simply make cuts onto the gel portion of the leaf and let the gel ooze out. 
  3. Collect some in a small container and place it in the refrigerator.
  4. Once the gel has become slightly cold, gently apply over the skin or the affected areas.
  5. Fresh aloe Vera gel can provide instant relief from itching and reduce skin lesions. 
  6. Apply aloe Vera gel at least 3-4 times every day. 

How this works: aloe Vera gel is naturally anti-inflammatory. It helps to reduce itching and rashes. Along with providing a cooling sensation, it also helps to hydrate and moisturise the skin thereby reducing flare ups.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is an excellent remedy for psoriasis treatment.

  1. To use this oil, simply take the required amount in a small bowl and allow it to heat for a few seconds.
  2. Once the oil gets a little warm, rub over the affected areas. 

Coconut oil is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal in nature. It helps to cut down the risk of developing any further infections. Coconut oil also helps to create a barrier between the skin and the environment to protect the epidermis.

It is best to use coconut oil every night before going to sleep.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is another great alternative for reducing the symptoms and healing the skin. This oil has immense anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it excellent for reducing redness. Tea tree oil can also help in reducing the scars due to psoriasis.

  1. All you need to do is take a few teaspoons of it and massage the oil onto the skin.
  2. You can use this remedy once every day to notice significant results. 

Do not use tea tree essential oil on the skin directly. Essential oils are much more concentrated and could burn the skin. 

Lavender oil

To use lavender oil,

You will need:

  • 3-4 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 5-6 tablespoons of coconut oil

How to:

  1. Simply mix the two ingredients together. Coconut oil will act as base oil.
  2. Apply onto the affected areas.

How this works: lavender oil is very relaxing. It offers anti-inflammatory benefits. Lavender oil can help to stimulate the healing of skin.

Use this remedy every day, once in the morning and once in the evening.

Turmeric and mustard oil 

You will need:

  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 6-7 tablespoons of mustard oil.

How to:

  1. Heat up the mustard oil until it becomes hot. 
  2. Add the turmeric powder to the oil and mix well.
  3. Let the mixture cool slightly. Make sure it is still slightly warm.
  4. Apply this oil onto the affected areas and cover with a cloth. 
  5. Do not wrap the cloth too tightly.
  6. Remove the cloth after 1 hour and wash using normal water.

How this works:

Turmeric is rich in anti-oxidants. This property helps to heal the skin. It has cleansing properties as well. Turmeric helps to reduce inflammation and lesions present on the skin. Mustard oil helps to fight bacteria on the lesions and also helps to reduce skin flaking.

You can use this remedy twice a week.

Rosewater ice cubes

  1. Simply freeze some rose water into ice cubes.
  2. Use these cubes whenever you experience itching.

Rosewater will calm down the skin and provide instant relief. 

Oats and aloe Vera mask

You will need:

  • 1 cup of oats
  • 2 tablespoons of aloe Vera gel
  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric

How to:

  1. Grind the oats in a blender until you get a powder.
  2. Take 1 tablespoon of this oats powder.
  3. Add aloe Vera gel and turmeric to this powder and mix well.
  4. Apply the paste onto irritated skin using a cotton ball. 
  5. Wash after 30 minutes.
  6. You can use this remedy 3-4 times a week.

How this works: oats are a great remedy for irritated skin. The combination of aloe Vera gel along with oats helps to heal the skin faster.

Apple cider vinegar

  1. Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar with equal parts of water.
  2. Use this solution to rinse the skin.
  3. Pat dry with the help of a clean towel.

Never use this solution on broken skin as it may cause a burning sensation. 

Apple cider vinegar can be used on the skin once a day. 

Epsom salt

  • Instead of soaking in a bathtub, try simple rinsing.
  • Mix ½ cup of Epsom salt in 1 bucket of water and have a bath with it.
  • You can also use Dead Sea salt for this since it contains many minerals.
  • After having a bath, apply a soothing moisturiser to restore hydration. Y
  • ou can even use aloe Vera gel to nourish your skin after the bath. 
  • Take this bath every morning to treat the symptoms of psoriasis.

Flax seeds gel

You will need:

  • 5 tablespoons of flaxseeds (unroasted and unsalted)
  • 2 cups of water

How to:

  1. Add the flax seeds to the water in a pan.
  2. Now let the mixture come to a boil.
  3. As soon as you notice the solution getting thicker, turn off the flame.
  4. Strain the mixture immediately.
  5. This gel will thicken as it begins too cool.
  6. Allow the gel to cool down completely.
  7. Place it in the refrigerator.
  8. Apply this gel onto the affected areas.

How this works: flaxseeds gel is completely natural and will not irritate the skin at all. This gel can be used on any part of the body including the scalp. The gel gets completely absorbed into the skin and does not leave any residue while moisturising it. You can store this gel for up to 2 weeks and use it as many times as you like in one day.

MYTHS AND FACTS

Myths  Facts 
Poor hygiene leads to psoriasis. There are no fixed reasons outlined about the causes of psoriasis. However, most of times, this condition could be hereditary or related to one’s immune system. Hence it is not caused by poor hygiene. However, unhygienic conditions may trigger flare ups and aggravate the symptoms.
Psoriasis can spread from person to person This is an auto immune disease. Although the skin lesions may bleed sometimes and the flakes may be evidently visible, this does not mean that it will spread. One cannot catch the disease from physical contact.
This disease only affects adults. Although psoriasis is most common in adults, it can affect children as well, especially if it is inherited. 

PRECAUTIONS

This disease can be prevented and managed in an effective way if certain precautions are taken, these are:

  • Don’t expose yourself to extreme weather conditions. A cold and dry climate draws out the moisture from the skin and triggers itching and excessive flaking. Similarly, excessive sun exposure can dry out the skin too. The heat may lead to redness. 
  • Keep a humidifier in your home. This will keep the environmental conditions quite moderate for the skin.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. These may stimulate the immune system and aggravate the symptoms.
  • Keep the affected areas extremely clean and sanitised to avoid further infections.
  • Never use your nails to scratch the surface of lesions. This will transmit the bacteria onto the lesions. Scratching can also lead to cuts and wounds which will take a lot of time to heal.
  • Try to reduce stress in your life by practising relation techniques. These techniques can be very helpful and reduce the chances of psoriasis outbreak.
  • Do not apply scented ointments or creams onto the affected areas.
  • Never use essential oils directly on the lesions.

OTC products for psoriasis

There can be many different companies producing ointments and skin healing products. When picking over the counter products, look for the following ingredients:

  • Salicylic acid
  • Aloe Vera gel
  • Zinc
  • Coconut oil
  • Dead Sea salt

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How is psoriasis diagnosed?

Initially, the doctor might examine the skin physically to determine the severity of the condition. During this time, make sure you let the doctor identify all the affected areas. Most of the time, a biopsy is recommended to confirm the occurrence of psoriasis. In this, a small skin sample is drawn and tested.

Is sunlight good for treating psoriasis?

The UV rays from the sun can help to slow down the excessive production of cells. This could reduce the symptoms. However, excessive sun exposure will not be beneficial. In most cases, doctors advise light therapy to ensure controlled exposure to the UV rays.

Can good diet help?

Consuming anti-inflammatory foods can certainly help to alleviate the symptoms in the long run. Ginger tea, as well as aloe Vera gel, can prove to be very beneficial. 

Is acupuncture useful as a treatment?

According to Chinese medicine, psoriasis is caused due to stagnation of blood. Acupuncture helps to solve that issue and is known to be helpful in some cases. However, this may not work for everyone.

How can the diet be modified to treat this disease?

  • High fibre foods like green vegetables have fruits like pears can help to clean the gut naturally and detoxify the body from within.
  • Antioxidant-rich foods help to fasten the skin healing process.
  • Several studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids can prove to be very effective for people with psoriasis. Good sources of these are flaxseeds, chia seeds, fish oil, and avocadoes. 

Can deodorants be used by people suffering from psoriasis?

Deodorants and perfumes contain alcohol and several other ingredients which will trigger itching and inflammation.  Hence these should be avoided.

Is swimming safe for a person suffering from psoriasis?

Psoriasis is not contagious and therefore swimming should not be an issue. However, make sure your water does not contain chlorine as that will dry out your skin. Moisturise your skin well after swimming. 

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