2% of men and women in the UK are diagnosed as having psoriasis. As a chronic auto-immune disease, it is impossible to prevent and can remain or recur throughout a sufferer’s lifetime.
As with all skin conditions, the effects of psoriasis vary from person to person – while mild cases may only cause minor irritation, severe psoriasis can have a serious impact on quality of life.
What is psoriasis and what does it look like?
Psoriasis appears as red, flaky, crusty patches of skin that are covered in silver scales. It usually appears in small patches on the knees, elbows and scalp, but can occur anywhere on the body.
Psoriasis is caused by the acceleration of skin cell turnover. New cells are formed at the deepest level of our skin and move up to the most outer layer as they mature.
This process usually takes 21-28 days, but in psoriasis it takes just two to six days, and so excess cells build up and bunch on the skin’s surface.
Despite its aggressive appearance, psoriasis is not contagious.
What causes it?
It is not known exactly why this acceleration occurs, but it seems to be a result of the immune system cell T lymphocyte attacking healthy skin cells.
Psoriasis and the tendency to contract it runs in the family, but can often skip generations. Research also suggests that it is linked to wider health conditions, so if you do suddenly develop psoriasis it is advisable to see your doctor.
Psoriasis has no known cause; however there are a number of things that are thought to trigger flares, including:
- Chest and throat infections
- Skin damage or injury
- Certain medicines
Extreme stress is often another major trigger. It seems that the psoriasis gene lies dormant in prone individuals until incidents of trauma or grief cause it to erupt.
Though there is no cure for psoriasis, lots can be done to improve its appearance and ease irritation.
Regular moisturising reduces dryness and scaling of the skin, and may be sufficient treatment in mild cases of psoriasis. Our Comfrey & Calendula Calming Body Cream will intensely hydrate these sore patches as well as relieve any itching or irritation.
If you’re off on holiday anytime soon, it’s worth bearing in mind that some sufferers of more severe psoriasis have reported good results from bathing in the Dead Sea! The uniquely high concentrations of salt in the sea water seems to drastically improve the appearance of psoriasis and reduce the frequency of flare-ups, albeit temporarily.
For those of you looking for something a little closer to home, floatation tank sessions are a good alternative.
Do you have any tips for dealing with psoriasis? I’d love to hear them.