There is a pleasant synergy between the viewpoint of alternative and natural medicine and the findings of clinical research. Psoriasis has no known cure and when we find this correlation that alternative and orthodox medicine can agree on, we can give it credibility, and also our full attention!
Based on the text of Clinical Dermatology, written by dermatologists for dermatology students, there are seven clinically accepted causes of psoriasis outbreaks, which apply to each of the 6 patterns of psoriasis. These 6 psoriasis patterns are:
Plaque psoriasis – This is the most common type. Lesions range from a few millimetres to many centimetres in diameter, are pink or red with large, centrally adherent, silvery-white, polygonal scales usually on the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp.
Guttate psoriasis – This is usually seen in children and adolescents, often triggered by streptococcal tonsillitis. Numerous small round red macules come up suddenly on the torso and soon become scaly.
Scalp psoriasis – The scalp is often involved. Areas of scaling are lumpy and sometimes more easily felt than seen.
Nail psoriasis – Involvement of the nails is common, with ‘thimble pitting’ and separation of the nail from the nail bed
Flexure psoriasis – Psoriasis is in the folds, particularly under breasts, anogenital area and other folds of skin on the body. Psoriasis is not scaly although red plaques glisten and often fissure in the depth of the fold.
Palms and soles psoriasis – Palmar psoriasis lesions are often poorly demarcated and barely recognised. The fingers may develop painful fissures and at times, lesions are inflamed and studded with 1–2 mm pustules
In each of these psoriasis patterns, these are the common precipitating factors that trigger flare ups, based on the belief of clinical dermatology and alternative medical science:
Controlling likelihood and consequence
Of the 7 causes that trigger each pattern of psoriasis, it is empowering to realise that we can take control of the likelihood of the trigger occurring, and thereby plan to minimise the consequence of the trigger if it should occur. When we understand the risks, plan to mitigate them, we wind up with a personal strategy that diminishes the impact these triggers have on our psoriasis. Let’s look at some of these strategies:
If the psoriasis is active, lesions can appear in skin damaged by scratches or surgical wounds.
Reduce the likelihood by protecting yourself against physical trauma. This may simply mean that you consider personal protective equipment and clothing.
Reduce the impact by considering taking anti-inflammatory supplements during the healing process. An example is curcumin as a supplement as clinical trials have shown great results in using turmeric to reduce psoriasis activity.
Tonsillitis caused by streptococci often triggers guttate psoriasis. Bacterial exotoxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus (golden staph) and certain streptococci can act as superantigens and produce massive T-cell proliferation and cytokine production leading to disorders such as toxic shock syndrome and psoriasis.
Reduce the likelihood by protecting yourself against bacterial infection. You can contract streptococcal infection after contact with infected persons. The bacteria are present in saliva and nasal discharge so sneezing, coughing and shaking hands can spread the bacteria.
Reduce the impact by boosting your immune response using natural supplements and whole foods as medicine. Antibiotics is the common treatment for streptococci infection however, psoriatics need to be mindful of the importance of a healthy gut microbiome. If antibiotics are necessary, then a probiotic supplement would help restore the good gut bacteria.
Improves most psoriatics but 10% become worse.
Reduce the likelihood of photosensitivity by choosing early morning or late afternoon sunlight and reducing your time in the sun. Photosensitivity can be caused by side effects of certain medications. Photoallergic reactions can also develop as a side effect of some medications and chemicals found in beauty products and sunscreen.
Reduce the impact by covering and protecting your skin to help prevent a reaction. By wearing hats, sunglasses, and long sleeves when outside you can reduce its impact.
Antimalarials, beta-blockers, and lithium may worsen psoriasis. Psoriasis may ‘rebound’ after withdrawal of treatment with efalizumab, systemic steroids or potent topical steroids.
Reduce the likelihood by considering all natural health options before using potent topical treatments for psoriasis. While clinical trial test drug potency against psoriasis, tests for system wide side effects are often overlooked. A case in point is the drug efalizumab, used to treat psoriasis, which has been withdrawn from the market because it increases risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare and usually fatal disease of the central nervous system. The primary objective of Psoriasislife Mag is to raise awareness of the dangerous side effects of clinical drugs and creams being used to treat psoriasis, and bring to light natural alternative approaches.
Reduce the impact by nurturing the body with only the best possible nutrients available to you so that if the situation arises when you need drugs, your body is well equipped to assimilate the drug and be better adapt at healing.
Emotional upsets seem to cause some exacerbations.
Reduce the likelihood by maintaining healthy relationships, leaving relationships that do not serve a benefit, stocking up on sleep, gathering our support team, and shifting our perspective on what we allow to upset us, in other words, we do not sweat the small stuff. Having compassion for others may help to reduce emotional triggers because we focus less on ourselves and our own feelings, and begin to understand what motivates others.
Reduce the impact by finding a value set that resonates well with you. My personal favourite is The Four Agreements, A Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz. I use each agreement to work through a situation, take responsibility for what I can and let go of what I cannot be responsible for. Here is a snapshot:
“The First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word
The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally
The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions
The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best”
Don Ruiz, you’re welcome!
Keep your finger off the trigger and your skin healthy
Clinical Dermatology, Fourth Edition By Richard P.J.B. Weller, John A.A. Hunter, John A. Savin and Mark V. Dahl