Psoriasis affects an estimated 7.5 million people in the United States, developing between the ages of 15-30 and 50-60, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.(1) Psoriasis is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that is partially genetic in some people but can occur spontaneously even without a family history of the disease. The most common type of psoriasis is the plaque-type psoriasis (80% to 90%), where the disease shows up as itchy, red, FLAKY dry skin called plaques. 20% of those affected have moderate-to-severe psoriasis, covering 5% of the body surface. There are no known causes of psoriasis but it can be managed and treated with consideration to long-term impacts of high inflammation.(2)
The best approach to managing psoriasis is a holistic one that considers overall health. “It’s not just about the skin that you have to pay attention to, there are many factors in people’s lives that can induce inflammation such as stress or a poor diet.” says Dr. Gary Chuang, a board-certified dermatologist and owner of Ivy Dermatology in Torrance, California.
There are standard treatments that include Ultraviolet (UV) and Ultraviolet blue (UVB) light, topical creams such as vitamin D, and salicylic acid. Psoriasis patients can seek treatment from a dermatologist or medical practitioner specializing in autoimmune diseases. When it comes to psoriasis’ health impacts, recent medical studies have also linked psoriasis to obesity, depression, cardiovascular conditions, strokes, and joint disorders causing psoriatic arthritis. For severe cases, oral medication maybe prescribed such as biologic medications which are chemical modulating markers associated with preventing long term health impacts such as arthritis, heart conditions, and diabetes. Biologics work by blocking reactions in your body that cause psoriasis and its symptoms. If you have psoriatic arthritis, a biologic can stop the joint pain, stiffness, and swelling in your joints. It can prevent the arthritis from worsening and causing more damage to your joints.(4)
Dr. Chuang adds, “in addition to using medications to manage psoriasis, there is a renewed focus on dietary and lifestyle factors affecting psoriasis. A poor diet and some food may trigger and promote inflammation. Although food triggers may be different for every patient, common reported food triggers are spicy foods, alcohol, gluten, nightshades, dairy products, and red meat. In addition to a poor diet, environmental factors such as life and work stressors can exacerbate psoriasis inflammation. Seeking out ways to reduce stress such as mindful living (i.e. meditation), exercise, spending more time outdoors can help.”
Managing and treating psoriasis is an holistic approach that considers longterm health impacts of high inflammation. A good diet, relief from life stressors, mindful living, and medical treatments reduces inflammation and improves overall health for psoriasis patients.
For additional resources and to learn more about psoriasis management visit the National Psoriasis Foundation.