At least once in your life, it’s likely that you’ve experienced some sort of dry skin. This can be sore, itchy and make you feel super self conscious. While many people have a special skin care routine for the winter, it still doesn’t completely solve the problems they experience with their skin. The cold weather dehydrates your skin and the sheer chill of the air promotes dry skin to become sore and itchy. For some people the problem isn’t simply dry skin. Some people suffer with a skin condition called psoriasis, and the winter time can be a very terrible season for them to deal with.
What is psoriasis?
For those who don’t know, psoriasis is a skin condition that’s believed to be caused by an autoimmune disease. Your antibodies think that your body is having to fight off an illness or infection and go into overdrive. This causes your skin to break out in red, scaly patches typically on the elbows, knees and scalp. Although these patches can break out anywhere in more severe cases.
With regular people, their skin regenerates every few weeks whereas sufferers of psoriasis regenerate every three to four days, and that’s what causes the buildup of skin patches. If left unattended, psoriasis can grow very thick and tough which leads to skin breaking off over clothing, furniture and more.
Not only do sufferers have to deal with the self consciousness of having flakes all over their skin, psoriasis is also very painful at times, itchy in certain places, and can cause further problems like psoriatic arthritis. Another problem that psoriasis sufferers have to endure, is that when they suffer with a breakout of acne, or even accidentally cut themselves, that the wound will often turn into psoriasis too. If you’re a regular sufferer of acne too, you can read the the best skin care routine for acne-prone skin to help prevent any chance of more psoriasis popping up on your skin.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are many medications that you can take to lessen the symptoms, alongside lifestyle choices which will improve how bad you suffer with it. This article is going to give you an idea on how you can treat your skin this winter to help maintain if not improve your psoriasis.
If you suspect that you have psoriasis, your first step should be to visit your GP so that you can obtain a diagnosis. Your Doctor will also be able to prescribe some mild steroid creams and ointments to improve the look and feel of your psoriasis. Be wary though, that these ointments are often greasy and will stain your clothing if you’re not careful.
In some cases your GP may refer you to a dermatologist for light therapy. This is where you will be exposed to short bursts of UV light. It is said that sunbed users who suffer with psoriasis notice an improvement in their skin after using the sunbed. Although please remember that you should always be careful about what you’re exposing your skin to due to the risk of skin cancer, so only take treatment that your Doctor or consultant has recommended.
For the most extreme cases, your Doctor may resort to prescribing you an oral pill called methotrexate. This can dramatically reduce the symptoms of your psoriasis and is often only used when the body is very largely covered with scales and you’re also experiencing psoriatic arthritis too. The reason this is a last resort is due to the vast amount of common side effects that users have reported in the past. To name a few:
- Mouth sores
- Hair loss
- Easily bruised
As you can see, the side effects might outweigh the cause, so that’s why it’s only prescribed in extreme cases. You will also be required to have regular blood tests to ensure that the methotrexate isn’t affecting your liver or other organs.
What can you do at home?
There are many different things that you can do at home to improve your psoriasis, and these things are based around food, creams, and other external factors.
When it comes to the food that you’re putting in your body, you may have noticed that when you eat a certain food that your psoriasis becomes worse. Generally the blame for your skin worsening is pointed towards junk food and anything with man made substances in.
Many psoriasis sufferers claim that switching to a vegan diet plan dramatically improves their psoriasis. This is because it’s claimed that red meat and dairy can worsen the symptoms you experience. If you’re not keen on the idea of a totally vegan diet, why not consider slowly cutting out each item of food to trial whether that might be a factor that’s upsetting your skin. Alternatively, you could opt to cut out regular red meat and dairy and see whether that makes a difference.
It’s also been proven that people who are overweight are likely to suffer worse with their psoriasis because they are more likely to be eating food that will cause a reaction on the skin. The best thing that you can do for your skin is to eat as healthily as possible, include lots of food rich in omega 3 and drink plenty of water to flush out any toxins.
When it comes to your skin care routine, you need to make sure that you’re not putting any creams on your body that will irritate the skin. Your skin as a psoriasis sufferer is extremely sensitive and something as simple and putting the wrong cream on could cause a breakout. The best thing to do is to stick to creams that are non-perfumed and that don’t contain anything like glitter or shimmer. While they look very nice on the skin, they can cause more damage than it’s worth.
As mentioned earlier, your GP may provide you with topical creams and ointments for your psoriasis, but you should also be using a regular emollient on your skin so that you’re giving your skin extra protection. There are many products available that you can use, including emollient to put in your bath water, and shower gels. Even if you’ve been advised by your Doctor to apply your prescribed cream a few times a day, regularly using an emollient throughout the day won’t do anything but help your skin. Carrying a small tub around with you so that you can apply it regularly (and liberally) will do your skin the world of good.
There are other things that can cause a breakout in psoriasis and should be avoided as much as possible. These are:
There’s no need to begin preaching about the other reasons as to why smoking is bad for you, but did you know that smoking can irritate psoriasis sufferers? It’s been proven that smoking can worsen the onset of psoriasis, and also the appearance of it too. Smoking as a sufferer can also lead to you getting many other different forms of psoriasis. So basically, if you’re a smoker, it’s time to quit for your general health and your skin.
Much like smoking, alcohol can increase the onset of psoriasis symptoms. While there isn’t as much evidence provided as from smoking, there’s still many correlations made between heavy drinkers and the severity of their psoriasis. Also, if you’re on methotrexate, drinking alcohol can damage your body even more and has even been connected to infertility in women of childbearing ages.
Stress can play a major part in psoriasis outbreaks. The problem here is that it can be much harder to control how much stress you’re going through, as it’s the body’s natural reaction to a situation. If you’re going through a period of high stress levels, why not try some relaxation methods so that you’re less stressed than normal. This can include meditation, yoga, and exercise. You may consider a career change if it’s your job that’s causing you stress. If you’re struggling with the way that you’re feeling, you might be suffering from more than just stress, so visit your GP for some advice on how to help yourself and the way that you’re feeling.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for psoriasis, but as you can see there are many methods in which you can improve the symptoms of it, some more dramatically than others. Combining all of these methods will certainly help the appearance and feel of your psoriasis, so why not make a lifestyle change and notice how beautiful your skin looks. Remember, improvement won’t happen overnight and this will need to be a permanent lifestyle change to reap the full benefits of it.