If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a psoriasis, you are not alone. Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin disorder that affects more than 20 million people worldwide, with as many as 150,000 new cases diagnosed every year in USA alone.
Psoriasis can be a hereditary condition and is linked to increased risk of stroke. Researchers believe psoriasis is caused when your body’s immune system attacks your skin, leading to excessive skin cell production. These extra skin cells build up in the patches that are associated with this disease. Severity ranges from just a few small scales to affected areas covering much of the patient’s body.
Following are the different types of the disease
- Plaque Psoriasis
- Guttate Psoriasis
- Inverse Psoriasis
- Pustular Psoriasis
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis
Plaque is the most common psoriasis condition, which usually causes red and scaly patches on the skin, but some sufferers may experience no outward symptoms.
Most psoriasis sufferers are able to lead healthy, happy lives, thanks to the availability of effective treatment methods. For many, psoriasis symptoms can be treated at home with over-the-counter topical treatments. Diet and lifestyle changes have also been shown to help reduce the frequency and severity of psoriasis outbreaks. For severe cases, modern medical procedures and medications provide lasting results.
In this article, we will explore information about psoriasis and the methods available to treat this disease. With this knowledge, you can evaluate the treatment options and choose those that will help you get rid of psoriasis symptoms.
What Causes Psoriasis?
In medical community, it is still unknown that how do you get psoriasis exactly. However researchers believes that it has something to do with your immune system. It happens when your T-Cells of your immune system mistakenly consider your healthy skin cells as foreign organism and attacks them which lead to excessive skin cells production. These excessive skin cells causes the dead skin to accumulate and build up in the patches.
Psoriasis is also believes to be a hereditary condition. If any or both of you parents had it, you got a higher chance of getting psoriasis.
Similarly certain medications and infection are also believe to cause Psoriasis.
Treatments for Psoriasis:
Doctors have identified some specific diet and lifestyle changes that have been proven to help reduce psoriasis outbreaks. For many psoriasis sufferers, a few changes in their daily routine can lead to significant success in controlling this disease.
Unfortunately, some businesses have attempted to capitalize on the need for effective psoriasis treatment programs. Any web search will bring up a long list web sites that make unrealistic promises while marketing expensive “miracle” cures for psoriasis.
Psoriasis treatment and eventual cure must always begin with diet change and maintain that diet change. If you want to get rid of psoriasis, without drugs, without lotions, without creams, without UV, you will have to do diet change. There’s also habit change and lifestyle change. But diet change is inescapable.
Modern medicine has come far since psoriasis was first diagnosed. Originally, psoriasis was thought to be nothing more than a chronic dry skin condition. Doctors used to recommend some moisturizing creams and make patient believe that this will do just fine. Heck doctors even confused it with dermaitits at first. Today, you have many treatment options to help you get rid of psoriasis. Armed with a better understanding of the underlying causes of this disease, doctors have developed effective products and cutting-edge procedures to reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks.
Following are some of the available psoriasis treatment options with details. These methods can be used at home or with the help of a professional health practitioner. Sometimes doctors also recommends combination of these treatment for better results. However make sure that your psoriasis treatment combination doesn’t affect your condition negatively. It depends on your psoriasis severity, medications, skin type and other factors.
Over the Counter Treatments for Psoriasis – Cheap Solution for Beginner Stage
For those with mild to moderate psoriasis, over-the-counter topical creams and ointments can be effective in relieving symptoms. These treatments are designed to reduce the itching and burning of the psoriasis patches. Some also are known to slow the growth of the overactive skin cells in the affected areas. Topical treatments fall into a few different categories: steroid creams, intensive moisturizers, plant-based products, and psoriasis-specific treatments.
Steroid creams, such as hydrocortizone, are useful for relieving the uncomfortable itching and burning of psoriasis patches. These treatments are inexpensive and can be purchased at your local grocery or discount store. They are also versatile and can be used for other skin irritations such as heat rash or poison ivy. However, they do not address the excess growth of the skin cells so should be used purely to increase your comfort during severe flare-ups. If used frequently over a long period of time, steroid creams can have unpleasant side effects, including thinning of the skin, bruising, and hives.
Intensive moisturizers are another psoriasis treatment that will increase your comfort. These creams will soften the psoriasis patches, easing your movement and relieving some skin tightness and irritation. Like steroid creams, moisturizers don’t help reduce skin cell growth, so they are simply a comfort treatment. No significant side effects have been reported.
Some natural products, using primarily plant-based ingredients, have had some positive results in relieving psoriasis symptoms with no identified side effects. Aloe, a cactus relative that is well-known for its healing properties, will treat discomfort in psoriasis-affected areas. Menthol sprays using peppermint oil have a natural anesthetic that eases pain and itchiness. Oatmeal also moisturizes and relieves itching. That is why oatmeal baths are popular as a treatment for poison ivy and chicken pox. Like steroid creams and moisturizers, these won’t decrease cell reproduction, but they will make you more comfortable for a while.
Psoriasis-specific creams and ointments typically have one of two active ingredients: salicylic acid or coal tar. Salicylic acid is a naturally occurring compound that is found in willow trees. It is a common treatment for dandruff because it helps skins cells shed more effectively, greatly reducing or eliminating large skin flakes. For psoriasis sufferers, creams with 2% salicylic acid have been shown to reduce flakes and ease itching discomfort.
Coal tar creams are an age-old psoriasis treatment with proven results. Creams with at least 0.5% to 5% coal tar will actually decrease the number of new psoriasis lesions within a few weeks. It one of the few over-the-counter psoriasis treatments that actually combats the disease itself.
Unfortunately, to gain the benefits of coal tar creams, you have to deal with its unpleasant characteristics. Coal tar has a very strong, asphalt-like smell that is difficult to hide. It is greasy and will stain your clothing and skin. In the past, some were also concerned that coal tar cream could lead to cancer. However, research has found no increased chance of cancer among people who used coal tar as a psoriasis treatment.
Phototherapy For Psoriasis – For Severe Condition
Research has shown that exposure to ultraviolet light can slow the excessive skin cell growth that causes psoriasis symptoms. For mild to moderate cases, simple sunlight therapy will often help, but for more severe cases, targeted phototherapy is often used. Phototherapy is also effective for people in areas where natural sunlight is to week to be effective as a psoriasis treatment.
Unlike laser therapy, phototherapy treatment is a better option for the people who has a considerably large area of the skin affected. In this treatment, patients are exposed to lights for a short period of time. These lights emits specific type of UV radiation which has been proven to eradicate psoriasis. It can be performed both in your doctor’s office and at home. Your doctor can recommend a home-use phototherapy lamp that is designed to emit the type of ultraviolet light that best treats psoriasis.
Whether you choose to have phototherapy at home or in your doctor’s office, it is essential that the treatments be performed on a strict schedule for them to be effective. Standard treatment schedules are 2 to 5 times per week for two to four months, however it varies depending on your psoriasis condition.
Ultraviolet B is the most common type of phototherapy treatment. The treatment typically starts with very short exposure which is limited to a couple of minutes. If the doctor feels that the treatment is helping the patient, the exposure length extended to upto thirty minutes. Sometimes doctors uses narrow-band UVB light, which restrict the wavelengths to only ones that seems to be most effective. In certain cases, doctors also combine this treatment with over the counter psoriasis treatment for better results.
It should be noted that in the beginning, UVB phototherapy treatment may cause your psoriasis to gets worse before getting better. Itching and redness are also observed in the start but will usually diminish with time.
There is another phototherapy treatment called Psoraline plus Ultraviolet A, or PUVA which is used less frequently due to the fact that it has shown some side effects. However it is highly effective for severe psoriasis cases. PUVA treatment works quickly and results last for several months, often without any other type of therapy. However, because the side effects are more serious than those of UVB treatment, doctors typically will not recommend PUVA therapy unless your psoriasis is very severe.
Psoralen is a prescription medication that is usually given with PUVA treatment. It increases the amount of ultraviolet light the body can absorb. It can be taken as an oral medication or applied in a topical treatment. Side effects include nausea, headaches, and burning or itching of the skin. It can also significantly increase your risk of skin cancer if used for a long period of time. After PUVA treatment, you should avoid exposure to sunlight and protect your eyes for 12 to 24 hours.
Psoriasis Homeopathic Treatment – Longer Duration But Minimum Side Effects
Homeopathic medicine takes a different approach to psoriasis treatment. Homeopathic health practitioners contend that psoriasis is not a skin condition itself, but that the skin lesions are a result of chemical imbalances in the body. Modern medicine confirmed this belief to some extent when it discovered that psoriasis patches are caused when the body’s own immune system attacks its skin cells.
Homeopathic medicine is different from both conventional and herbal medicine. Unlike other treatments, this alternative medical system does not address the psoriasis symptoms themselves. Homeopathic practitioners believe that the recognizable symptoms of disease are simply indicators of an underlying problem in the body’s internal chemistry and metabolism.
To treat disease, homeopathic medicine focuses on activating the body’s natural defenses to eliminate the cause of the disease. This system treats disease on the principle that “like cures like” by assigning low-dose treatments that would create the disease symptoms in an unaffected person. The concept is similar to allergy treatment in conventional medicine, in which the allergy sufferer is given small doses of an allergen to “teach” the body to react properly when the allergen is encountered in the environment.
Homeopathic treatment is not performed at home. Usually, you receive homeopathic medicines from a licensed medical doctor, chiropractor, or acupuncturist who is also certified as a homeopathic practitioner. Doses of homeopathic medicines are very small and diluted to reduce or prevent any possible side effects.
Homeopathic treatment of psoriasis centers on the proper administration of compounds which correct problems with your body’s metabolism. Because homeopathy addresses each individual’s specific imbalances that are causing the psoriasis lesions to form, every person’s homeopathic treatment program is uniquely tailored to his or her needs. However, certain compounds are frequently used when treating patients suffering from psoriasis.
Kali Sulphuricum, also known as potassium sulfate, is often prescribed for psoriasis. It is believed to assist the body in better delivering oxygen to cells which, in psoriasis cases, helps skin cells to grow and shed naturally. Kali sulphuricum also helps to relieve stress, which is known to trigger psoriasis outbreaks.
Calcarea Carbonica, or carbonate of lime, is another psoriasis treatment in homeopathic medicine. This compound improves the body’s ability to deliver nutrients to cells, allowing the cells to grow normally.
Mezereum is used to treat many patients with whitish lesions, pustules, and red, itching skin – all symptoms of psoriasis.
For patients who have had psoriasis for a long period of time, graphite is also used as a treatment.
Good nutrition and healthy habits are often encouraged by homeopathic practitioners as a way to improve the body’s overall function and increase the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies. Therefore changing your lifestyle to address deficiencies and imbalances can be helpful as well as mandatory while you are undergoing homeopathic treatment. For many people, courses and books that provide a structured system are helpful in identifying lifestyle changes that can be effective in treating psoriasis. Conventional medical research also supports the belief that certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies can increase frequency and severity of psoriasis outbreaks.
Psoriasis Natural Light Treatment – Using Sun Strategically
Sunlight exposure is a free, easy, surprisingly effective treatment for mild to moderate psoriasis. Ultraviolet radiation that is naturally present in sunlight helps discourage the overgrowth of skin cells, which leads to fewer psoriasis patches.
Ultraviolet light comes in two varieties, UVA and UVB. Both of these occur at low levels in sunlight, and UVB is particularly effective in treating psoriasis. Researchers have found that when UVB light penetrates the surface of the skin, your body increases its production of vitamin D. Vitamin D plays an important role in helping cells divide properly, which in turn regulates cell growth to keep skin cells from growing out of control and creating psoriasis lesions.
Ultraviolet light also kills activated T-cells, the part of the immune system that malfunctions in psoriasis patients. Misguided T-cells attack healthy skin cells and trigger excessive growth. Ultraviolet light gets rid of the T-cells before they can attack, preventing the psoriasis lesion from forming.
Some holistic treatment programs combine natural light therapy with nutritional and behavioral changes to address the immune system problems that cause psoriasis. Courses and eBooks available on the Internet or at your local bookstore often include a detailed sunlight therapy program that is helpful if you are uncertain how to implement this treatment.
A natural light treatment program must be introduced gradually, much like phototherapy in your doctor’s office. Initially, treatment generally consists of exposing as much affected skin as possible to full sunlight at midday for about 5 to 10 minutes. Each week, treatment time is increased by one minute until a daily exposure of 20 minutes per day is reached.
More sun is not better when treating psoriasis. Excess sun and sunburn will cause psoriasis to worsen, leading to new psoriasis patches and additional irritation of existing affected areas. Be sure to protect areas of healthy skin with sunscreen when performing a natural light treatment. Psoriasis-affected skin is thicker than normal skin, so it is less likely to develop irritation or burn. Healthy skin areas are thinner and can easily be damaged during sunlight therapy if they are not shielded from the sun’s rays.
Sunburn is more likely when using certain topical treatments for psoriasis. Common prescription medications that have been known to increase risk of sunburn are Protopic and Elidel. Coal tar creams also increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun and can lead to irritation.
Most importantly, when receiving Psoraline plus Ultraviolet A, or PUVA, treatment for psoriasis, do not start a natural light treatment program. Psoraline is a medication specifically designed to increase the skin’s ability to absorb ultraviolet rays. Exposure to sunlight during your PUVA treatment program is extremely likely to lead to sunburn and skin damage, and may cause new psoriasis lesions to form. Sun exposure during PUVA therapy can also significantly increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
If you are fair skinned or burn easily, do not begin sunlight therapy without contacting your doctor or dermatologist.
Psoriasis Laser Treatment – Temporary & Costly But Effective
For many, laser therapy is a real solution for treating psoriasis patches quickly and effectively. Laser therapy is used for moderate to severe cases of psoriasis. It is often suggested for the patches that are not responding well to other psoriasis treatments. Laser therapy has proven to be very successful in many psoriasis cases that were previously untreatable.
Laser treatment requires much less time per treatment session and provides faster results than other light treatment methods. Typically, the laser is applied to a particular psoriasis lesion during 4 to 10 sessions spaced a few days apart. Each session lasts 5 to 10 minutes. Laser treatment can be costly, but fortunately, many insurance carriers cover laser therapy for people diagnosed with psoriasis.
Typically, results last at least 4 to 6 months in the treated area before psoriasis patches begin to reappear. People with large skin areas affected by psoriasis benefit significantly because time spent applying topical treatments or undergoing full-body phototherapy is reduced or eliminated.Common types of laser treatments include UVB laser and pulsed dye laser.
UVB Laser is essentially a concentrated beam of the same radiation that tanning beds use to tan your skin. It is painless. T-cells, the part of the immune system that causes the skin cells to overgrow, are sensitive to this radiation. Cell growth slows, allowing the lesion to heal. UVB laser therapy is relatively new to the market but initial results have been very positive.
Pulsed Dye Laser has been in use for approximately 15 years. This type of laser uses a different form of light ray that breaks down the tiny blood vessels feeding the psoriasis lesion. There is some mild discomfort during this treatment, like a pinch or a rubber band snapping. Treatment sessions must be about three weeks apart, but only 4 to 6 treatments are necessary for results.
Regardless of the type of laser treatment you undergo, all laser treatments have some similar benefits. Precision is an important advantage over other types of light therapy. The laser is applied only to the affected area of the skin, avoiding exposure of healthy skin to potentially harmful radiation. Because psoriasis patches are so much thicker than healthy skin, they are protected from many negative effects of UVB radiation exposure. Healthy skin does not have this additional protection, so long-term exposure to high levels of UVB can cause premature aging, dryness and irritation. It also increases your risk of developing some forms of skin cancer.
Laser therapy can also have some lasting effects on the appearance your skin surface if it is used too frequently or the procedure is performed incorrectly. Skin can become permanently scarred or discolored. Irritation can sometimes occur following treatments, which may lead to infection by bacteria or skin viruses.
Another drawback of laser treatment is that it can only be applied to a small area at a time. If the psoriasis patient has a large percentage of skin surface that is covered by lesions, the laser can only be applied to small areas per session. To treat all areas, laser treatment can become almost regular which ultimately increases cost as well as risk of skin damage.
Topical & Prescription Psoriasis Treatments – When Everything Else Fails
Doctors avoid prescription treatments when possible because side effects can be more problematic than other treatment options. These very strong medications must be used carefully to reduce the risk of severe side effects or long term damage. Topical prescription psoriasis treatments are typically one of two types: high-potency corticosteroid creams or topical immunomodulators.
High-potency corticosteroid creams are basically the same as over-the-counter steroid creams except that the active steroid ingredient is much, much stronger. These work by constricting the blood vessels in the skin, reducing inflammation.
Topical immunomodulators are immune-suppressants that you apply to the skin. They prevent the faulty T-cells from releasing the chemicals that cause the psoriasis plaques to form.
Topical treatments only affect the area to which they’re applied, which reduces the risk of overall side effects significantly. Nonetheless, areas treated by topical prescription treatments can suffer long-term skin damage, becoming thinned and prone to irritation or infection.
“Systemic” prescription psoriasis treatments, those that are taken as a pill or injected, are the strongest of psoriasis treatment options. Systemic treatments tend to have severe side effects so they are reserved for only very difficult psoriasis cases. The most effective systemic prescription psoriasis treatments are Methotrexate, Cyclosporines, and Retinoids.
Methotrexate, a drug that was developed for use in cancer chemotherapy, is used in psoriasis cases to restrict cell growth. Side effects can include upset stomach or fatigue. If used for long periods, liver or intestinal damage, birth defects and low blood cell counts are all possible.
Cyclosporines are a drug family that suppresses the immune system, which can be helpful in reducing the action of errant T-cells. Since cyclosporine reduces immune function, patients are more susceptible to illness and infection while using this medication. Kidney damage and high blood pressure are potential side effects of long term use, and patients have a higher risk of developing some types of cancer.
Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that regulate skin cell growth. This group of drugs has been shown to be effective against stubborn psoriasis symptoms. Potential side effects may include hair loss, skin and mucous membrane dryness and hepatitis. Because retinoids cause severe birth defects, women should not become pregnant for at least three years after ending use of retinoid medications.
Prescription medications can be used with reasonable safety if you follow your doctor’s treatment instructions carefully. Use the treatment products on the schedule directed and do not exceed dosage amounts. This will increase the likelihood of success, which may eventually allow you to take a break from prescription psoriasis treatment and switch to over-the-counter treatments, phototherapy or laser therapy.
Prescription psoriasis treatments are your doctor’s last line of defense in treating psoriasis symptoms after other treatment options have been unsuccessful. If your doctor has recommended that you begin drug therapy, follow the program carefully and you can help achieve good results.
So these are the six main types of psoriasis treatments, their effectiveness and their side effects. There are other programs out there too that promises to cure psoriasis naturally using the holistic approach. However before starting any treatment option, make sure to consult a dermatologist for better understanding of your condition and severity. Do not opt for any treatment that involves medications or light unless your doctor recommends it because these treatments can potentially make your psoriasis worse instead of reducing it.
Although there are different opinions on whether psoriasis is curable or not, however the existing of lots of treatments out there signifies the fact that if not now, psoriasis will be completely curable soon.
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