Psoriasis Awareness


Psoriasis Awareness Month calls attention to the fact that many people do not understand psoriasis, which makes it difficult for those with the condition to cope. Many people mistakenly think this condition is contagious when, in fact, it is not. Psoriasis is a non-contagious, chronic, autoimmune disorder that is passed down through genes.

Many common skin conditions, including psoriasis, can all be triggered and worsened by stress. And who isn’t stressed these days? Your skin mirrors on the outside what is happening inside. Mental stress causes your body to release chemicals that boost your inflammatory response. Scientists and physicians suspect this is what causes stress-induced psoriasis flare-ups.

In addition, psoriasis tends to worsen with weight gain, with the use of certain common medications, such as beta blockers used to control high blood pressure or heart rate, or lithium used to treat bipolar disorder, and with the onset of infections, including respiratory infections.

Psoriasis occurs due to an overactive immune system that speeds up skin cell growth. Normal skin cells completely grow and shed (fall off) in a month. With psoriasis, skin cells do this in only three or four days. Instead of shedding, the skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin. Some people report that psoriasis plaques itch, burn and sting. Plaques and scales may appear on any part of the body, although they are commonly found on the elbows, knees, and scalp.

Inflammation caused by psoriasis can impact other organs and tissues in the body. People with psoriasis may also experience other health conditions. One in three people with psoriasis may develop psoriatic arthritis (PsA). It’s important to treat PsA early on to help avoid permanent joint damage.

Symptoms often start between ages 15 and 25 but can start at any age. Men, women, and children of any race or culture can develop psoriasis.

There are five types of psoriasis. It’s possible to have more than one type of psoriasis at one time and more than one type in a lifetime. Treatments may vary depending on the type and location of the psoriasis.

There isn’t a cure for psoriasis. However, there are now many treatment options available to help manage the condition. Each patient has a unique treatment plan, which is dependent upon the severity of the disease, and the type of psoriasis present in the patient. Each patient also reacts differently to treatment, so while one treatment method may be effective for some it might be completely ineffective for others.

Here are some recommendations to reduce the onset or impact of psoriasis:

  • Eliminate smoking and alcohol.
  • Get enough rest every night.  Adequate rest is critical in managing stressful environments and situations. The time you spend sleeping also allows your skin to rejuvenate. Aim for six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.
  • Cleanse and moisturize your skin. Maintaining you daily skincare routine keeps your skin healthier. A moisturizer will help rehydrate your skin from the outside. Drinking plenty of water, particularly in these hot summer months, will help keep your skin hydrated from the inside.
  • Despite the temptation, don’t spend long amounts of time in a hot bath or shower, as this can exacerbate your psoriasis.
  • Eat healthy foods. While the foods you eat don’t cause psoriasis, a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables can help you get the nutrition you need to keep your skin looking its best.
  • Protect your skin from the sun. The sun’s UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays can be more harmful than you think. Make using an SPF of 30 or greater a daily part of your skincare regimen.
  • Enjoy your favorite exercise or meditation. Managing stress through your favorite form of exercise or meditation can reduce your cortisol and improve your overall health.

If you have skin inflammation and you aren’t sure what it might be, contact your primary care provider for a consultation and diagnosis. If you do not have a primary care provider, please contact the CCMH Medical Clinic at 712-265-2700. Dr. Douglas Ramos provides plastic surgery and dermatological services at CCMH twice per month. Call 712-265-2600 to make an appointment in the CCMH Specialty Clinic.