You may have heard of psoriasis before and figured it was little more than a skin condition—a little bit of dryness to the scalp or hands and that’s it. But psoriasis is much more severe than that.
In fact, of the 7.5 million Americans suffering with psoriasis, 60% of them say the disease causes significant problems in their everyday lives. Psoriasis is not contagious and has nothing to do with hygiene, but it can cause a number of problems like increased stress, pain, discomfort, and depression, and can even lead to psoriatic arthritis. (Luckily, we’ve listed three alternative natural treatments that could relieve your psoriasis symptoms below.)
Psoriasis Is More Than Just a Skin Condition
Although its symptoms are mainly external, psoriasis runs far deeper than that. It’s actually an autoimmune disorder that can affect your whole body, inside and out. It’s considered a body-wide inflammatory condition and is linked to an increased risk for a number of dangerous and common health conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, and stroke.
In fact, severe psoriasis can raise your risk for a serious heart problem or heart attack by 58% and your risk for a stroke by 43%. The National Psoriasis Foundation also says it can increase your chance of developing type 2 diabetes by 46%.
Physical Symptoms of Psoriasis
Along with the above dangers psoriasis can pose, there are other daily symptoms sufferers experience. People with psoriasis must deal with the pain and itchiness of dry skin, the unsightly appearance (and pain) of lesions, and the constant worry of when flare-ups might occur—not to mention their degree of severity.
The condition can be worsened by anything that might dry out your skin. Alcohol and cigarettes are two substances proven to have an impact on the severity and instance of psoriasis flare-ups.
A large-scale study tracked the alcohol consumption and prevalence of psoriasis among more than 100,000 women from 1991 to 2005. Over that period, 1,000 of them developed psoriasis. It was noted that women who consumed more than two drinks per week were 76% more likely to develop the condition than those who drank less. What’s more interesting, however, was that not all forms of alcohol contributed to the development of the disease—just non-light beer was the culprit. Not surprisingly, men who drink heavily are also more likely to have psoriasis.
Why non-light beer? Non-light beer is linked to psoriasis complications because it can trigger sensitivities to barley, while heavy drinking can lead to dehydration and dry skin, making psoriasis worse. Alcohol consumption might also trigger flare-ups by stimulating proteins that lead to inflammation. Therefore, if you have psoriasis, it’s wise to limit alcohol intake; likewise, if you wish to prevent the condition, it’s best to cut back on drinking. At the end of the day, the less you drink, the healthier you’ll likely be.
Psoriasis is also closely linked to smoking. Nicotine might alter your immune system, while the other chemicals in cigarettes cause oxidative damage to cells. Smokers have almost double the risk of getting psoriasis than non-smokers.
How to Treat Psoriasis
Traditional treatments for psoriasis include ointments, creams, and other therapies that can be quite costly. According to a recent report published by NPR, therapies cost America $52.0–$63.0 billion per year, while lost employment time from the condition costs $24.0–$35.0 billion. Treatments are often required regularly and for many, time off due to doctor appointments and the effects of flare-ups are much too frequent.
As an alternative to costly treatments, there are also a number of natural home remedies you can use to treat psoriasis. One important note: these remedies must be applied regularly, and they don’t cure the condition. Rather, they provide effective temporary relief from pain and irritation.
Three Natural Treatments for Psoriasis Relief
To keep itching in check, keep your skin well moisturized, and use hot or cold packs or showers for instant relief. Following your shower, be sure to moisturize immediately after towel drying to limit dryness. If you suffer from severely dry skin, try replacing your regular moisturizer with a moisturizing body oil, coconut oil, or baby oil.
Capsaicin, the compound that gives chili its spice, can provide relief by blocking nerve endings that are itchy. You can purchase ointments and creams containing capsaicin to feel its effects. Be warned that there might be a slight burning sensation when you first apply the treatment, but that momentary discomfort will lead the way to relief from itching.
Finally, you can use apple cider vinegar as a natural treatment for psoriasis relief. Make a mixture featuring equal parts apple cider vinegar and water and dab it on your scalp or the affected area two to three times per week. Rinse the treated area and don’t apply the mixture to scalp or skin that is cracked or bleeding.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Psoriasis,” National Psoriasis Foundation web site; https://www.psoriasis.org/psoriasis, last accessed January 9, 2015.
Rodriguez, D., “7 Psoriasis Myths Debunked,” Everyday Health web site, October 27, 2014; http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/psoriasis-treatment-management/myths.aspx, last accessed January 9, 2015.
Shute, N., “How The Skin Disease Psoriasis Costs Us Billions,” NPR web site, January 8, 2015; http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/01/08/375623146/how-the-skin-disease-psoriasis-costs-us-billions.