Overview of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a major skin disorder. The commonest form of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis. In plaque psoriasis, the cells of your skin grow abnormally fast and accumulate on top of your skin. This results in the production of thick scales, with itchy but dry red patches. These patches may be sometimes painful. The patches may be large, small, and vary in intensity over time.
According to a 2014 study, over 7.4 million Americans have psoriasis. The primary cause of this condition isn’t known. But it is worth mentioning that psoriasis is more common among people with a family history of the condition.
What are the symptoms of psoriasis?
The symptoms of this condition vary from person to person. Common symptoms of psoriasis include:
- Dry, cracked skin
- Red patches on the skin usually covered in scales
- Swollen and rigid joints
- Dense, ribbed, or uneven nails
- A burning sensation on the skin
Tips to preventing psoriasis flareups
The symptoms of psoriasis vary. They may come and go. But it is worth mentioning that this condition has no cure. There’s no better way to prevent the symptoms than by avoiding known triggers. These triggers vary. So, you should take note of the triggers that worsen your symptoms as well as specific factors that help relieve your symptoms.
The following tips can help you to prevent flare-ups:
Stress is a major trigger for psoriasis. Daily stress hurts the body. However, the impact of stress is worse for people with psoriasis. The human body has an inflammatory reaction to stress. This inflammatory response can trigger a flare-up.
You should strive to reduce the amount of stress to which you subject yourself to. These few methods can help you destress:
- Yoga: It helps the body and mind to relax, and also relieves stress.
- Psychotherapy: Speaking with a therapist about your condition may enhance relaxation. You can also speak with a therapist about any factors or issues that may be putting you under undue stress.
- Relaxation techniques and meditation: You can reduce stress by meditating, or engaging in deep breathing exercises.
Certain medications may cause psoriasis and should be avoided
Some medications may distort your body’s autoimmune response, and thus trigger an inflammatory reaction which in turn leads to psoriasis. Medications in this category include:
- Antimalarial drugs, like hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.
- Lithium, used for the treatment of mental disorders, like manic depression.
- Indomethacin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication used for the treatment of arthritis.
You must speak with your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (whether prescription or over-the-counter). If your healthcare provider suspects that your medication is contributing to your symptoms, he or she may change your dosage or the medication itself. Do not stop taking the medication on your own. This should be done only under the guidance of your healthcare provider.
Avoid skin injuries
Do you know that ordinary skin injuries can serve as psoriasis triggers in some people? Yes! And this condition is known as the Koebner phenomenon. Scratches and sunburns are examples of skin injuries that can act as psoriasis triggers.
To prevent these and other types of injuries, you must take good care of your skin. You should take precautions when you are engaged in activities that may cause skin injuries. Efficient precautionary measures include:
- Applying caution when engaging in outdoor activities
- Using sunscreen when you’re outside. You may also wear a hat when you are outside.
- Applying bug spray before you go outdoors
- Wearing gloves or long sleeves when you’re in the garden
Call your healthcare provider without delay if you observe that you’ve got psoriasis symptoms after a skin injury. Early diagnosis of the Koebner phenomenon is key to effective treatment.
Infections are major triggers of psoriasis. How, and why? Well, when you have an infection, your immune system is put under stress. This causes an inflammatory reaction. An example of such an infection is strep throat. It triggers guttate psoriasis in children. Tonsilitis, an earache, or skin or respiratory infection can trigger a psoriasis flare-up.
Seek immediate treatment if you suspect that you have an infection. If you have a cut or a wound on your skin, ensure that you clean it properly and cover it well to prevent infection. You can also prevent infection by:
- Washing your hands often daily
- Reducing exposure to sick people, especially kids
- Not sharing your eating utensils, drinks, or food with other people
Eat a healthy diet
Being overweight or obese appears to worsen psoriasis symptoms. As such, you should manage your weight by engaging in physical activities and exercises, and also by eating a healthful diet. If you can create a healthful diet, seek the assistance of your nutritionist. They will help you figure out the type and quality of food you should eat daily to lose weight.
Some foods can trigger inflammation. These include:
- Red meat
- High-fat foods
- Citrus fruits
- Nightshades, like peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes
- Refined sugars
- Processed foods
Foods with anti-inflammatory properties include:
- Green leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach
- Nuts, like almonds and walnuts
- Seeds, like pumpkin seeds and flax seeds
- Tuna, salmon, and other fatty fish
You can also take vitamins or supplements if your diet is deficient in certain nutrients. Ensure that you consult your nutritionist or doctor before adding certain supplements or vitamins to your diet. Some supplements may interfere with certain medications.
The key to preventing psoriasis symptoms is by identifying your triggers. You may not be able to prevent the symptoms all the time. But avoiding the triggers and adhering to your treatment plan can help minimize your symptoms. If you need help identifying your triggers, or you need guidance on how to reduce outbreaks, then talk to your healthcare provider. They will be of assistance to you.