Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • August 2017
Written by 

Five natural ways to manage psoriasis

Many people who do not have psoriasis think, “It’s just a rash, no big deal.” But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Those who suffer with psoriasis live with painful physical as well as emotional symptoms.

Consider these facts about psoriasis from the National Psoriasis Foundation:

  • Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States, affecting as many as 7.5 million Americans.
  • Psoriasis occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells, resulting in painful, red, scaly patches on the skin that bleed and itch.
  • There are five types of psoriasis; the most common being plaque psoriasis. This presents as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells.
  • Psoriasis is not contagious and is not an infection!
  • People with psoriasis say their disease makes them feel self-conscious, embarrassed and helpless.
  • Approximately 20,000 children under age 10 are diagnosed with psoriasis each year.
  • While the exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, genetics and external factors known as “triggers” (e.g., injury to the skin, infections, certain medications, etc.) play a role in its development.
  • Those who suffer with psoriasis are at increased risk for other health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, obesity, high blood pressure and depression.
  • There currently is no cure for psoriasis.

Thankfully, awareness is starting to spread. I read an NPR article titled, “How the Skin Disease Psoriasis Costs Us Billions,” and it was quite an eye-opener. It referred to a study by JAMA Dermatology that says psoriasis costs the nation $52 to $63 billion a year for the direct costs of health care. Indirect costs like unemployment add another $24 to $35 billion, and the costs of associated health problems (e.g., heart disease, depression, etc.) add $35 billion more.

And then there are the emotional and social costs. Some individuals are shunned because many people believe psoriasis is contagious. I’ve read about people being asked to leave salons and get out of pools, and of children being bullied. No wonder it takes a toll on one’s self-esteem. This disease is very hard to live with!

Natural ways to manage psoriasis

There are medical options that are bringing some relief to those suffering with psoriasis, and I would like to highlight the natural approaches here. Natural psoriasis options are popular for those trying to avoid chemicals, dealing with unwanted side effects, failing to find relief from prescription drugs or wanting to supplement their other helpful therapies.

Light therapy

In phototherapy, the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light on a consistent basis. UV rays penetrate the skin and are believed to destroy activated T-cells, which then slows cell turnover, and reduces irritation and scaling. A health care provider determines the intensity and duration that’s right for you.

Diet

Taking certain approaches to diet can be empowering for those suffering with psoriasis. The National Psoriasis Foundation suggests focusing on weight loss and heart-healthy, anti-inflammatory foods. I have worked with clients who indicated that nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers) were a problem for them. Others have said citrus fruits seem to cause flare ups. It may be worthwhile keeping a diary of food and liquid intake for a month to help uncover some hidden sensitivities.

Lifestyle considerations

Certain lifestyle habits that affect many health problems may also play a role in psoriasis. Consider eliminating smoking and alcohol if they are part of your routine. Stress and anxiety can also play a role. Take control and eliminate those people and obstacles that cause you stress. Until you get there, consider some help. My go-to when I feel stressed or just overloaded is Vital Adapt with adaptogenic herbs. For me, it seems to provide a calming effect, yet it helps me maintain energy and it seems to help with sleep. Who can’t use that?

Vitamins and supplements

Those consuming the standard American diet typically consume too much omega-6, which can contribute to pro-inflammatory conditions. Since omega-3 fatty acids are believed to have an effect on the immune system, some people take fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements if they do not get enough through their diets. Consuming essential fatty acids, especially gamma-linolenic acid (borage, black currant and evening primrose oils) may also help to maintain healthy skin. Glucosamine and chondroitin and vitamin D are other supplements that are considered for those dealing with psoriasis. Speak with your health care provider about these or other supplementation options.

Bathing and moisturizing

Bathing daily in lukewarm water helps to calm skin and encourage scale drop off. It is recommended that natural oils, colloidal oatmeal or Dead Sea salts be added to the water. After blotting dry, while skin is still moist, apply natural moisturizers. The National Psoriasis Foundation suggests those with aloe, cayenne (capsaicin) or tea tree oil. Two popular products at Natural Healthy Concepts are Derma E’s paraben-free Psorzema Crème, which contains neem, burdock, bearberry, and vitamins A and E to soothe irritated skin and reduce scaling and itching. Tea Tree & E Antiseptic Crème is a paraben-free blend of tea tree, vitamin E and other synergistic herbs, vitamins and natural oils.

For those of you who were unaware of the seriousness of psoriasis, I hope you’ve found this to be educational and that it has even stirred up some empathy within you. And for those of you living with psoriasis, I wish you the best in finding the treatments that work best for you. 

 

Theresa Groskopp, CN

Theresa Groskopp, a licensed certified nutritionist, is the founder and president of Natural Healthy Concepts, which has a retail location at 310 N. Westhill Blvd. in Appleton. She firmly believes that the foundation of health and wellness lies in proper nutrition. To supplement proper nutrition, Natural Healthy Concepts carries a wide variety of pharmaceutical grade supplements, homeopathic remedies and herbs — all of which are derived from the highest quality ingredients. The store also offers a nice selection of natural health products, including nontoxic sunscreens!

Website: www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com
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