Thursday, 24 January 2013

Life's tough (and sometimes, so is our skin) - Psoriasis Exposed

I found out very recently that a close friend of mine suffers from Psoriasis. I was a little bit shocked at first because I'd never picked up in it and he had never discussed it with anyone. I suppose it's not something you casually bring up in conversation. 

Working at MooGoo Skin Care, I am now quite familiar with this condition and the different avenues people take to try and treat it. Working here has also made me realise how common Psoriasis actually is. 

What is Psoriasis? (Why do they put a P in front if you don't pronounce it?)

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that affects about 3 in 100 people (this figure is based on UK and Irish populations). It occurs when the skin cells replicate too quickly causing the skin to flake in irregular shaped areas. Everyone's skin cells replicate and replace the dead or damaged ones. However in some people, the multiplication process happens a bit too quickly which results in an overload of skin cells. A mathematical way to look at it is a skin cell would typically take about 21 - 28 days to replace itself. In Psoriasis, this process is accelerated and may take 2 - 6 days. 

MooGoo Skin Care
Appearance of Psoriasis

Psoriasis appears as red, scaly, patchy, dry skin. It is mainly found on the outside of the knees and elbows (the opposite of Eczema), the scalp and sometimes on other parts of the body such as the legs or back. It is found in people of all ages. It normally starts off quite mild but can become very itchy which may cause bleeding. Just like any other skin condition that affects one's appearance such as Seborrheic Dermatitis, Psoriasis can impact a person's well being due to feelings of embarrassment. When a person develops Psoriasis, it usually continues getting either better or worse along the way; it may even disappear for prolonged periods. 

No single cause for Psoriasis has been found. However, aside from hereditary factors, there are some things that trigger Psoriasis, such as stress which is a common one. It can also be worsened by emotional stress, scratching, rubbing, injury, certain medications, some infections or smoking. Another interesting fact (sorry to be the bearer of bad news here)...

A potential trigger of Psoriasis
"Women who drink beer regularly are more likely to develop the skin disease Psoriasis" (BBC News Health, 2010)

The link between Psoriasis and beer was specific to regular 'non-light' beers; other kinds of drinks, such as calorie light beer, red and white wine and spirits, had no effect on Psoriasis risk (phew!). Scientists believe the starchy grains found in beer may account for this link. Starch sources, such as barley, contain gluten which is known to be associated with Psoriasis. You can read more about this here

Do I have Psoriasis? What is this rash?

Sometimes people call and say "I have some sort of rash. I am not sure what it is." I am not a doctor, but we do sell therapeutic skin products so I do need to make sure I can suggest the right product or treatment. These are the questions I would normally ask:

MooGoo Skin Care
Typical Plaque Psoriasis - Found on the
knees and scaly in appearance
  1. Where is the rash? Psoriasis often starts on the outside of the elbows or knees, but sometimes in other areas like the torso. Eczema will often start on the inside of elbows or knees. 
  2. Is it scaly or itchy? Psoriasis tends to be scalier than other skin problems while Eczema tends to be itchy. Psoriasis can get itchy later too, but generally starts with scaly skin. 
  3. How quickly has it spread? If the rash spreads quickly within a few days, it is likely that it is not Psoriasis. Psoriasis often (but not always) spreads more slowly. 
  4. What shape is the rash? Psoriasis usually occurs in irregular round patches. Fungal skin problems are usually round as well, but more even in shape (like fungus spreading). Eczema is not regular at all, but just a series of patches of inflamed skin.

What are the treatments for Psoriasis?

There is no cure for Psoriasis yet! Don't be mislead by internet claims that sell cures. It can be managed and improved, but when a cure comes out don't worry, the whole world will know about it.

Psoriasis is a very individual disease. What works for one person may not work for another. Another important note is some Psoriasis sufferers report their symptoms can build a resistance to a treatment that was once effective. So 'resting' a treatment for a couple of months is sometimes needed. 

Some typical treatments include:

Moogoo Skin Care
DId someone say beach?
  • UV Therapy
Phototherapy or light therapy basically involves exposing the skin to UV light on a regular basis, under medical supervision. Remember my friend that I mentioned at the start? He was overjoyed once he heard this - it gave him the perfect excuse to go to the beach each day (unfortunately this is not the case!) Treatments these styles are either done in a doctor's office, a Psoriasis clinic or at home with a phototherapy unit. 

  • Drug based treatments
New drugs are constantly being developed to help soothe Psoriasis symptoms. They normally work by suppressing aspects of the immune system. These can have some side effects though as a suppressed immune system can lead to more chance of infection.  

  • Diet
Some practitioners believe diet plays an important role in managing Psoriasis. For some people, avoiding alcohol helps. Some researchers have recommended antioxidants, bet-carotene, folate, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc as nutritional factors that could potentially play a role in preventing and managing Psoriasis. 

  • Creams
Good quality creams do help relieve the itching and flaking of Psoriasis. Most creams recommended for Psoriasis contain Paraffin Oil, which isn't too great for you (I'll delve a little deeper into this another time). 

What do we suggest for Psoriasis?

No need to hide those knees anymore!
When we receive a call or email from someone suffering from Psoriasis, aside from telling them to avoid stressful situations, we normally recommend our MooGoo Eczema and Psoriasis Cream which has proven to be really popular amongst our customers! It is packed to the rim with anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and skin repair ingredients (including natural oils, proteins and Allantoin) - so it is perfect for relieving the symptoms of Psoriasis. These creams do not cure Psoriasis because it is an immune disorder but they do help soothe the symptoms. Some customers also find their skin craves something else to provide some hydration. In these cases, we recommend the MooGoo MSM Soothing Cream which is super gentle and soothing (with thanks to the added MSM) and gives the skin that extra moisture is thirsts for. 

Do you really have Psoriasis?

MooGoo Skin Care
Seborrheic Dermatitis
Customers often call saying "I have Psoriasis but just on the scalp/ears." Sometimes this can be a different skin problem called Seborrheic Dermatitis. Fortunately, this skin problem is normally curable, while Psoriasis can only be managed. For Seborrheic Dermatitis, we always recommend our MooGoo Scalp Cream or MooGoo Eczema and Psoriasis Cream which usually clears it right up.

Do you, or do you know someone who suffers from Psoriasis? Do you have any of your own remedies to help soothe the symptoms? We'd love to hear them - just pop them in the comments below. :)

by Daniella De Azevedo 

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