Although an estimated 2% of the UK population suffer from psoriasis, this auto-immune disease has only started to gain real attention since celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Cara Delevigne have begun to publicly document and share their struggles.
Dr. Daniel Glass of The Dermatology Clinic London, www.thedermatologyclinic.london, who has over 15 years’ experience treating the symptoms and understanding the causes of psoriasis, which include abnormalities in the immune system, reactions to medication, and genetics gives his professional insight into the condition.
What is Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition which causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales, which can often heavily impact a sufferer’s everyday life. These patches tend to appear on your elbows, knees and scalp, but any part of the body can be affected. Many sufferers will have tried multiple topical and systemic treatments to tackle the condition to get some relief from their symptoms. However, it can be hard and time consuming to find the right creams and formulas to work, as every case it different.
It can be aggravated by certain factors
In some cases, alcohol, sunburn or smoking may aggravate psoriasis as well as certain medications, such as beta blockers. Stress and anxiety has also been shown to aggravate this condition, as well as hormonal changes in women. Obesity is also associated with psoriasis and as such exercise and losing weight can be beneficial when looking to improve symptoms.
It can be affected by the weather
Psoriasis sufferers often find comfort in summer, as the warm weather and sun can help alleviate symptoms, but as we go into winter, flare ups will become more common, and many sufferers will be searching for treatments and preventative measures.
You are not necessarily born with it
Psoriasis can occur at any age, but often develops in adults under the age of 35 and affects men and women equally.
There is no cure, but it can be managed
There is unfortunately no cure for psoriasis although there are a number of effective treatment options and symptoms can be controlled by understanding triggers.
You can try to control it with your mind
A less well-known and increasingly successful way to tackle psoriasis, is to look at the psychology behind it, as there are strong documented links between the mind and the skin. For example, when we are stressed certain hormones are released, which can have a direct effect on our skin, either causing a flare up or aggravating affected areas. This can also work in the reverse, as in many cases, if you’re experiencing a flare up of symptoms, these can make you feel more anxious and self-conscious, adding further to your stress and exacerbating your symptoms, resulting in a vicious cycle.
For sufferers who need immediate relief from their symptoms, I suggest psychological therapy alongside topical and systemic treatments, to help give them the necessary coping mechanisms for when they do have a psoriasis flare up. Suggested psychological therapy includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), breathing exercises, relaxation and to fully resolve the cause of your psoriasis and thus stop or limit your flare ups, I would suggest a different therapy such as trauma focused therapy or systemic therapies.