The facts about psoriasis

Psoriasis is a disease that causes skin cells to build up too quickly on the surface of the skin. Often, this causes the skin to appear like thick silvery scales.

These patches of dry skin can become very itchy and painful. The size of psoriasis patches can range from a few small spots to major eruptions that cover large areas of the body. In most cases, psoriasis will go through cycles in which it flares up for a few weeks or months then calms down for a time.

The cause of psoriasis is due to an autoimmune disorder that affects the skin cells. This simply means that the body’s immune system cannot recognize the skin cells and attacks them by mistake. As a result, the body increases the production of healthy skin cells, which in turn leads to the characteristic scaly patches of skin.

Although anyone can develop psoriasis, several risk factors, such as family history, immune system disorders such as HIV, stress, obesity and smoking can increase your chances.

The treatment of psoriasis can be broken down into three main categories. The first line of therapy is usually the use of topical creams such as corticosteroids. These anti-inflammatory creams are the most commonly prescribed medications for the treatment of mild to moderate cases.

The second category of treatment is phototherapy or light therapy. The simplest form of phototherapy involves exposing your skin to controlled amounts of natural sunlight. Other forms of phototherapy include using an artificial ultraviolet light.

The last category of treatment is oral or injected medications. This type of treatment is reserved for severe cases or cases that are resistant to the other forms of treatment. Due to the harsh side effects of these medications, your doctor will likely prescribe them for only short periods of time.

In addition to medical treatments, there are a few home remedies that you can apply yourself. First of all, take daily baths. Bathing helps to remove the dead scaly skin and reduces the inflation in the skin. You can also add bath oils, oatmeal or Epsom salts to the water and soak for 15-20 minutes. It is important to avoid hot water and harsh chemical soaps, which can worsen the symptoms. After your bath, apply a mild moisturizer to the affected area. Lastly, cover the affected area of skin when you sleep at night to avoid rubbing and irritation. Alternative medicines like aloe vera, capsaicin cream and fish oils have also shown some benefits if treating psoriasis.

-Dr. Christopher H. Singh runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at the 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 519-421-2024.

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