Condition and Causes
Psoriasis occurs when your immune system mistakenly activates white blood cells (T cells) that cause skin cells to grow too quickly. When these excess cells stack up on the skin’s surface the result is psoriasis.
In order to develop psoriasis, you have to A) inherit a specific mix of genes and B) experience a trigger. Stress, winter weather, strep throat, a bad sunburn, or a scratch could be your trigger. Lithium, some blood pressure medications, and some medications to prevent malaria can be triggers, too. Caucasian people get psoriasis more often than others.
Psoriasis is not contagious, but it is a chronic condition without a definitive cure. Psoriasis can take many forms:
There are many options for treating psoriasis. We will discuss these in detail with you, analyze your condition, and work with you to develop a treatment plan that delivers optimal relief with minimal disruption of your lifestyle.
How to Reduce Flare-Ups
There is no cure for psoriasis, but early intervention, active treatment, and careful management can be effective in controlling signs, symptoms, and progress of the condition.
- Avoid triggers
Educate yourself about known triggers and those that seem to affect you.
- Document your flare-ups
Record stressful events and incidents of damage to your skin to learn what might trigger a flare-up.
- Practice a healthy lifestyle
Eat a balanced diet, drink lots of water, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.
- Do not smoke
Smoking may trigger an outbreak and aggravate existing psoriasis.
- Limit alcohol
Heavy drinking may trigger a flare-up and diminish the effectiveness of treatment.
- Reduce stress
Engage in activities that keep you calm: exercise, massage, therapy, counseling, support group participation, etc.
- Take care of your skin
Keep skin soft with emollients and moisturizers. Wear cotton clothing next to your skin to avoid irritation and overheating. Practice good sun safety. Take short showers using warm (not hot) water. Use fragrance-free cleansers. Pat your skin dry, instead of rubbing it. Moisturize generously, especially after bathing.
- Avoid scratching, rubbing, or irritating the skin
Help fight the temptation to scratch by using cold compresses, applying a menthol-based ointment or topical steroid, or soaking in an oatmeal bath.