Psoriasis is a skin condition characterized by raised, pink
patches of skin, covered with scaly silvery scales. It can be
itchy, inflamed, unsightly and, in worst cases, extremely
painful. Medical science is uncertain what causes it, though
there is evidence to support a number of underlying triggers,
including food allergies, stress, an auto-immune disorder and
dietary deficiencies. Psoriasis affects as many as six million
Americans, though the number may be underreported, as many
people don’t bother consulting a physician for minor cases.
Treatments for psoriasis include topical ointments and
medications, suggestions for dietary changes, recommendations
for nutritional supplements and internal, systemic medication.
Psoriasis is seen equally in both genders, and in all ages of
people. It is most likely to appear on the scalp, elbows, knees,
groin and lower back. About ten percent of sufferers develop
psoriatic arthritis, an extremely painful arthritic condition.
doctors have identified a number of possible triggers for
psoriasis, they’re more certain about the actual mechanics that
causes the skin condition. Some factor – in many cases a
nutritional deficiency – triggers the body’s immune system, and
the body responds by going into ‘healing mode’, building new
skin cells at far too fast a rate. When that happens, new skin
cells build up under skin cells that aren’t yet ready to be
shed, cutting off the supply of nutrients to the surface skin
cells and creating a raised, itchy area of psoriasis. If the
skin lesions are on the palms or the soles, they may develop
oozing or pus-filled blisters, and in about ten percent of all
cases, the skin condition can develop into psoriatic arthritis.
Symptoms of Psoriasis:
symptoms of psoriasis include:
Raised skin lesions that are deep pink with silvery scaly
surface and red borders
Cracked, painful skin, particularly at the lesions
Itchy skin (in some people)
Blisters oozing with pus, particularly on the soles of the
feet and palms of the hands
Pitted, discolored and thickened toe and fingernails
Joint pain in those who develop psoriatic arthritis
Researches have identified a number of possible triggers for an
outbreak of psoriasis, but can’t say with any certainty exactly
how the triggers work to touch off an outbreak. The triggers
vary from person to person, and one person may have outbreaks
triggered by a number of different sources while another may not
have any of the identified triggers. The possible causes for
faulty immune system is the explanation that most
researchers lean toward. The actual mechanics that cause the
lesions are the same process by which the body heals
injuries to the skin – almost as if something turned the
immune system on high without any cause.
Genetics seem to be implicated, as psoriasis is more likely
to occur in those with a family history of psoriasis.
Emotional stress seems to trigger or worsen outbreaks of
psoriasis. This may be due to the fact that stress puts an
added burden on the body’s nutritional needs, thereby either
diverting necessary nutrients, or triggering an excess of
some bodily chemical.
Obesity is often a co-condition of psoriasis. It may be a
matter of diet that causes both conditions.
injuries or sunburn are often the precursors to psoriasis.
Streptococcus virus may be implicated in some way, as
psoriasis symptoms often seem to appear for the first time
about two weeks after a strep throat infection.
Certain drugs, specifically gold, lithium and beta-blockers
seem to trigger outbreaks of psoriasis.
is definitely implicated, and some health practitioners
suspect an allergic reaction to some foods as one cause of
psoriasis. Specifically, the intake of alcohol and acidic
foods seems to trigger and worsen psoriasis outbreaks.
Treatments for Psoriasis:
Treatments for psoriasis range from topical creams and ointments
to internal systemic drugs, nutritional therapies and dietary
supplements. Some holistic practitioners even recommend stress
reduction techniques to help reduce the incidence and severity
of psoriasis outbreaks. The major treatments recommended for
Corticosteroids may reduce inflammation and irritation, but
can only be used for short periods of time.
Ointments containing salicylic acid help scales to shed.
Ointments and topical skin treatments containing capsaicin
(hot pepper extract) may reduce inflammation by blocking
chemicals in the skin.
Prescription medications taken by mouth that include
methotrexate, psoralen and tegison, all of which can be used
with UV therapy.
Ibuprofen may reduce swelling, inflammation and pain,
particularly that associated with psoriatic arthritis.
Petroleum jelly (Vaseline) helps soften skin and reduces
tar ointments and shampoos are often prescribed for
treatment of psoriasis of the scalp. There are potentially
serious side effects, but it does relieve symptoms.
Nutritional and Alternative Supplement Therapies
Dietary changes that may help in cases of psoriasis include
eliminating alcohol, simple sugars, foods high in acid and
fat, and any foods that are known allergens.
Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly fish oil supplements, have
been proven to reduce psoriasis symptoms in clinical trials.
The recommended dosage is 1000 mgs twice daily.
Vitamins B12 and E and folate supplements have reduced
symptoms of psoriasis in dosages of 100 to 1000 mcg daily.
Several studies have suggested that zinc is effective in
treating psoriasis. Suggested dosage is 30 mg daily.
Selenium seems to alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis, as
indicated in several studies.
thistle stops the breakdown of substances that contribute to
psoriasis. Some herbal practitioners suggest tea or tincture
made with milk thistle to help alleviate the symptoms of
The advantage that dietary and nutritional supplements have over
most prescription drug treatments is the lack of harmful side
effects. Regularly supplementing your daily diet with the
nutrients that are known to help prevent and lessen the symptoms
of psoriasis can eliminate painful outbreaks permanently. The
antioxidant properties of omega 3 fish oil supplements seem to
be the most effective, and many health professionals recommend
taking a daily supplement
that provides DHA and EPA – the two main essential fatty acids
found in fish oil – to help control outbreaks of psoriasis.