Psoriasis is an uncomfortable autoimmune skin disorder that can also increase the risk of depression, diabetes and heart disease. It affects people most often in the hot summer months. Symptoms include pain, soreness, and extremely itchy skin lesions on the elbows, knees, groin, and scalp usually with a silvery scaly appearance. Many people with psoriasis experience flares-ups that come and go over large or small areas of skin and can have affiliated joint pains. Psoriasis has been linked to excessive alcohol consumption, as well as smoking and environment/emotional stress. There is no “cure”, but there are effective ways of controlling flare ups/inflammation.
Some conventional medical treatments for psoriasis and eczema include moisturizing creams/emollients like Vaseline or A&D ointment; tar based lotions; medicated creams like retinoids (vitamin A based), calcipotriene (vitamin D based), anthralin (made from araroba tree-based goa powder), steroid creams; or immunomodulating creams that suppress the immune system like Elidel; ultraviolet light/UVB phototherapy. The oral medications include steroids and other drugs such as cyclosporine and methotrexate that suppress your immune system. Several of these medications have some side effects such as thinning of the skin, increased risk of infection and can put you at higher risk of cancer.
An integrative approach to these skin issues involves getting to the root of the problem and finding out why you have inflammation. You can put salve on a skin lesion or steroids on an itchy patch, but looking at the root of the problem will decrease the need for such medication. Although it might seem counterintuitive, one of the first places we look at is the gut. When our gut is healthy, it blocks out a large amount of foreign proteins such as the ones found in foods, and when it is not healthy, it is unable to block these proteins (a “leaky gut”). When these proteins get into our blood, our immune system recognizes them as “foreign” and try to “attack” them, causing inflammation. When we remove the foods that are causing a reaction and add things that heal the gut (L-glutamine, quercetin, probiotics, prebiotics) the gut becomes better at keeping the inflammatory proteins out of our blood. Your gut and skin are linked. What you eat often affects your skin health.
To have optimal healthy skin, you should eat a diet high in vegetables, fruit and lean proteins and low in dairy, sugar and carbohydrates. Avoid smoking, alcohol, and artificial anything- flavors, sweeteners, colors. Remember to have adequate intake of healthy oils like fish oils and flax. Some other ways of managing your psoriasis include: protecting your skin and exploring stress management techniques such as meditation, acupuncture, tai chi which can help decrease flares.
Helpful testing includes stool testing to look at healthy levels of good bacteria as well as possible overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria which can contribute to a constantly inflamed “leaky” gut; ELISA/ACT/LRA testing to see what your blood cells are reacting to whether it’s a chemical or food; Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to psoriasis and so it’s important you get that checked.
Your healthy skin starts with a healthy gut.