Our skin protects us from weather conditions, controls our body’s temperature, and acts as a shield against infections. Sometimes, however, our skin doesn’t perform its functions at its best. That is the case for people with psoriasis.
Psoriasis affects 3% of the population. It is characterized by red patches covered with buildup of scale (dead skin cells) mainly at the elbows, hands, knees, and scalp. Psoriasis is not contagious. It is believed that the immune system and genetics, among others, contribute to its development.
Psoriasis often results in much lower quality of life among people who have the disease. Psoriasis patches are very itchy and painful when they crack. Some people with the disease tend to keep to themselves and avoid going out because of their lesions. In more severe cases, symptoms of anxiety and depression can occur. That is why it is important to seek treatment immediately to reduce symptoms enough to be able to maintain a normal way of life.
What exactly is the treatment for psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic disease, which means that it never completely goes away. There are periods of crisis and periods of remission. The goal of treatment is to control symptoms (patches, itching, pain) and prolong periods when the disease is not active. Consequently, it is important to follow treatment consistently without stopping when you see signs of improvement. Consistent treatment is the best way to prevent relapses.
Choosing a treatment option depends on several factors, including:
- Areas where the patches appear
- Type of psoriasis
- Previous response to treatment
- Spread of patches
- The expectations of the person with the disease
Treatment consists in applying medicated topical solutions (ointment, cream, lotion) for lighter forms of psoriasis. Oral treatment, injections or phototherapy may be necessary for more severe forms of the disease.
There is a vast range of prescription medication to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis. Your pharmacist’s advice may be of great value when choosing a treatment option designed to deliver enhanced comfort and quality of life. Your pharmacist can also tell you how to use the product, what precautions you need to take, and what side effects may be expected.
Keeping your skin hydrated is important
Ensuring that your skin is hydrated is essential to the treatment of psoriasis. Appropriate hydration reduces redness and calms itchiness while helping the skin to heal. Hydrating solutions work in combination with medication for optimal results. You must use a hydrating solution on your skin every day and preferably after a bath or shower when your skin is still humid. Your pharmacist can recommend a hydrating solution that is right for you.
Other products you can use for treatment and to calm itchiness
Bath products (Epsom salt, sea salt, colloidal oatmeal, oil) can contribute to the effectiveness of medication. Taking a bath every day helps to get rid of patches and reduce itchiness. However, the bathwater must be lukewarm and you must not stay in the water too long so as not to dry out your skin. Ideally, salt is added at the beginning of the bath and oil a few minutes before the end. Remember to use non-perfumed skin and body care products. It is worthwhile spending a little more to get the best-quality products.
Advice for controlling your psoriasis more effectively
- Don’t rub, scratch or exfoliate the patches
- Use a humidifier if the level of humidity in your home is too low
- Reduce your alcohol intake
- Quit smoking
- Drink plenty of water
- Reduce stress with physical exercise or relaxation techniques
- Wear clothing that isn’t too tight and that doesn’t irritate your skin
- Use sunscreen and protect yourself against the sun’s rays
- Take a shower when you come out of the swimming pool to prevent chlorine from increasing itchiness and dryness
- Eat healthy foods, including whole grains, pulses, and fruits and vegetables
- Speak with your pharmacist to make sure that any other medication you may be taking does not trigger psoriasis attacks
Psoriasis is a disease that does not threaten your life, but it does affect it significantly. Many people with the disease shut themselves away because they can’t bear to have people look at them. Others will miss work due to the pain or be unable to sleep because of the itchiness. Stop thinking there’s no treatment that can provide relief. There are many effective treatment options on the market. Take effective charge of your psoriasis and show your healthy skin to the world!