Various remedies can help address psoriasis

August is Psoriasis Awareness Month. Most people have seen or know someone with psoriasis, as it is unfortunately a fairly common disease. Psoriasis is a skin disease that shows itchy or painful patches of thick red skin with silvery patches that usually appear on the elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms or feet. It is a chronic disease but can go into remission and then flare up badly for weeks or months at a time.

Although there is not a lot of scientific support that any treatment is especially effective against psoriasis, some natural remedies include aloe vera as a topical cream or capsaicin cream also applied topically.

The capsaicin cream may produce a burning sensation with the first few applications because capsaicin is the same substance that gives hot peppers their heat!

Other remedies that are used include having a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are inflammation fighters and are found in fish, and flaxseed as well as fish oil supplements. If you decide to supplement with fish oil capsules, make sure that you buy the best quality one you can find, because low quality ones tend to go rancid quickly.

There is some evidence that a gluten–free diet also helps since for many gluten cause inflammation. There are many products that can help with lowering the level of inflammation in the body. In September I will be beginning a series of talks regarding this topic.

Psoriasis results from an immune-system disorder that over-stimulates the immune system. It is usually caused by stress, infections, injury, cold weather and certain types of medications including beta blockers and antimalarial drugs. People with a family history or psoriasis are also more likely to develop it.

In some case psoriasis can be disabling or disfiguring. Your doctor should be part of your team to control and combat the disease. The usual treatments include applied (topical) corticosteroids and synthetic vitamin D, and light therapy.

Some other self-care strategies include taking daily soothing baths with colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts in the water, daily use of a high quality skin moisturizer, avoiding alcohol consumption and managing stress possibly by using yoga, deep breathing exercises, bio-feedback or mediation.

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects some people who have psoriasis. Most people develop psoriasis first and then are later diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis but joint issues can sometimes arise before skin lesions appear.

Joint pain, stiffness and swelling are the main symptoms of psoriatic arthritis which can strike any part of the body. Most commonly the fingertips, toes, spine and foot are affected.

The symptoms can range from mild to very severe and again, as with the skin lesions, can go into remission and then flare up for weeks.

There is no cure for psoriatic arthritis, so the focus is on controlling the symptoms and preventing joint damage as it can lead to permanent disability.

Psoriatic arthritis can affect the joints on just one side of the body and many times can resemble rheumatoid arthritis because the joints appear red, swollen, warm and painful. In the hands, fingers can swell and become sausage-like.

You could also develop swelling and deformities in the hands and feet before having significant joint issues. In the foot, psoriatic arthritis attacks the Achilles tendon or the sole of the foot particularly.

In the low back, spondylitis can be caused by psoriatic arthritis where the joints in between the vertebrae become inflamed.

If you have psoriasis it is very important to let your doctor know if you begin to have joint issues, because if left untreated it can severely damage joints.

Some lifestyle and home remedies to consider if you have psoriasis arthritis include protecting your joints — especially your hands and fingers. Maintain a healthy weight by eating a good nutritious diet including omega-3 fatty acids and including lots of vegetables and leafy greens. Exercise regularly and focus on flexibility and strength exercises. Use hot and cold packs when flare-ups occur. The cold pack will numb the pain and the hot packs will help relax tense muscles. Don’t overdo any activity. Rest when you need to and divide work or exercise into manageable bits.

Chronic diseases can be difficult to manage but if they are managed well, life can be full of fun and quality!

Jane Riley is a certified nutritional adviser. She can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, (808) 212-1451, www.janerileyfitness.com

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