What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis carries with it the onset of a host of symptoms that can be painful, as well as possibly embarrassing. There is no true cure for the condition, but there are many treatment options to manage it. Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the skin and the body’s response to the attacks is to overproduce skin cells. It is a lifelong condition, incurable at the moment, and it is fortunately not contagious. People with this disease are at an increased risk of stroke and some other medical conditions.
There are several types of psoriasis: plaque, inverse, pustular, guttate, and erythrodermic. Non-pustular forms are psoriasis vulgaris, which is the most common of the non-pustular variety, and psoriatic erythroderma, and the latter of which has symptoms of swelling, pain, and itching, and it might even be fatal in the cases of some patients. This is because the skin’s temperature regulation and barrier functionality are compromised by the onset of the damaging autoimmune effects of psoriatic erythroderma.
Pustular psoriasis causes the patient to develop pus-filled raised bumps on the skin. The skin underneath these pustules develops a red coloration and becomes tender. Some patients have no visible symptoms on their skin. Plaque psoriasis, the most common one, forms scaly patches on the skin. These scales have the coloring of red and white hues and also get an appearance of a silvery-white color from the build-up of skin.
Typical areas affected are knees and elbows, but it can also make plaques on the hands and fingernails, feet and toes, scalp, and genitals. In guttate psoriasis, scaly lesions which could be described as being “teardrop-shaped” occur. It is typically preceded by a strep infection. With the inverse type, the skin has inflamed smooth patches, and it is found in skin folds and is irritated by sweat and friction. It can also develop fungal infections.
There is also a drug-induced type of psoriasis. A recurring disorder, it can cover small areas to nearly the entire body. A related condition, psoriatic arthritis, which is found in 10% or more of psoriasis patients, can cause joint inflammation. The fingers and toes are generally the parts of the body most affected by psoriatic arthritis, but it can also impact the knees, hips, and spine. This autoimmune disease has a possible genetic component to it. Patients with this (and certain other conditions) can have local changes to their skin along a skin injury line, which is called the “Koebner phenomenon”. There may also be environmental triggers for this autoimmune disease, such as stress, corticosteroid withdrawal, and oxidative stress.1
Current Medical Treatments
The medical treatments for this disease are meant to help the patient control the condition. Nonetheless, there is no permanent cure for this autoimmune disorder and the condition will recur. Some patients may benefit from “biologics”, administered via IV. Others may respond to “systemics”, which are taken orally or injected. Phototherapy is another treatment option. In light therapy, the skin is exposed to medically-supervised UV light. “Topicals” are over-the-counter and prescription treatments that the patient regularly applies to the skin as directed. There are even complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) options for managing psoriasis. Those patients with the many varieties of this skin condition who are seeking more natural treatment options should look into what CAM has to offer.2
The various CAM alternatives for this condition include nutrition, natural supplements, exercise, and various therapies. Eating a healthy diet and eliminating suspected trigger foods can help some patients manage their condition. Some patients may turn to herbal remedies and mind/body therapies. While others may include exercises, yoga, and tai chi to improve their overall health.3 Additional alternative therapies include hands-on techniques to not only help provide relief for psoriasis, but to ease psoriatic arthritis and any other physical injuries or conditions that could have arisen following the onset of psoriasis. These hands-on treatments include acupressure, acupuncture, massage, and even Reiki.4
Chiropractic care can not only help patients with their nutrition through recommendations for dietary modifications, but chiropractors can also provide relief for patients with psoriatic arthritis through adjustments and manipulations as well as lifestyle changes. They might work with other medical professionals or those who work in specific fields to help the patient, such as a physical therapist for full-body strengthening exercise routines for the patient. Chiropractors aim to help improve overall health and believe in the body’s ability to heal itself. A healthier body is better equipped to maintain overall wellness than a body which has not been properly taken care of. Chiropractors take a look at and treat or manage the source of the pain, rather than just temporarily achieving symptom relief. Techniques used by a chiropractor may include traction, massage, ultrasound, and rehabilitation and ergonomic advice.5
Learn more about skin irritations and rashes.