Living with Psoriasis
We are in the heart of the holiday season, and if you are one of the eight million Americans who suffer from psoriasis, it is likely that the present at the top of your list this year was a cure for the disease. It wasn’t too long ago that intrusive TV ads harped on “the heartbreak of psoriasis?” That is not a useful point of view, nor is it necessary. It’s not even reasonable.
If you have psoriasis, the whole point is to keep it far away from defining you. There is a genetic component to psoriasis, but even when family members don’t have the disease, families and relationships can suffer when psoriasis causes a person to withdraw. This is one effect that we do not have to permit, that we must not permit, because anxiety and depression are triggers for psoriasis.
Understanding what we’re dealing with is a good beginning for preventing psoriasis from taking over. Psoriasis is an immune disorder, in which the body’s own defense processes go out of whack and begin working against it. Although many authorities describe this immune response as “attacking healthy skin cells,” we prefer the Mayo Clinic view that psoriasis speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. It is the accumulation of these extra skin cells that forms the plaque – the scales and red patches we associate with psoriasis.
While the cure for the disease itself has yet to be discovered, there are many options for treating the symptoms of psoriasis effectively.
A Positive Way of Life
Some of the most immediate, personal solutions for reducing the occurrence and symptoms of psoriasis are just good ideas for living anyway. Diet, for example, plays a part in the progression – or the reduction – of symptoms. Each person’s response to foods can be characteristic, or different, but generally avoiding red meats, milk, and glutens helps to starve psoriasis. Reducing the intake of sugar, white flour, refined carbs, trans fats, MSG, soda and artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and alcohol can also help. On the proactive side, there are foods that can help reduce the inflammation and irritation of psoriasis, including broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, walnuts, and pineapple. Probiotics in the digestive system can help steady the immune system.
Stress reduction can play an important part in minimizing the effects of psoriasis. So, exercise, relaxation, massage, meditation, yoga, and taking time for the things you enjoy can play important roles in dealing effectively with psoriasis.
Some Excellent Professional Resources
Many of our patients have found relief through phototherapy, the controlled application of ultraviolet light. It works to reduce plaque formation by slowing down the excess growth of skin cells. The key to phototherapy for psoriasis is one particular band of the UV spectrum, UVB. Although UV is present in sunlight and the output of sunlamps, the differences between professional phototherapy, by prescription, and simply sitting in the sun are many and important. In fact, simple sun exposure can make psoriasis symptoms worse.
Your board-certified dermatologist is in a position from experience and training to know how much, how long, and how frequently your phototherapy treatments should take place, and to monitor the results with skill and sensitivity. The narrow-band UVB phototherapy option offered here at Dermatology Consultants uses a smaller and more controlled range of UVB energy, which nevertheless requires fewer treatments per week and produces faster, longer-lasting results.
Whatever the goals you have for your own appearance and sense of well-being, our mission at Dermatology Consultants is to bring those goals to life. If psoriasis has been a concern for you, we can help. Just contact one of our three locations to schedule a consultation.