Psoriasis is a common skin disorder that occurs when the skin rapidly produces new cells at ten times the normal rate. Because the skin cells still slough off at their normal rate, this creates a buildup of cells, leading to patches of dry, itchy and occasionally swollen skin with thick silvery or whitish scales. The cause of psoriasis is unknown, although scientists think that it’s a genetic disorder (as cases of psoriasis often run in families) and possibly connected to immune system. Psoriasis is a chronic disease that runs in cycles with periods of remission.
Although there is no cure for psoriasis, it can be treated at home with natural remedies and improved through lifestyle changes.
Home Remedies for Psoriasis
Diet: Poor diet and food allergies can worsen psoriasis. Poor digestion can create toxins that contribute to skin proliferation. As with many skin conditions, focusing on natural elimination of toxins through the digestive track, instead of through the skin, can significantly help. For a healthy, toxin-eliminating diet, focus on fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and whole grains. For protein, choose easier-to-digest vegetarian sources or lean cuts for meat eaters. Cold-water fish is an excellent protein source as it also provides essential fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and low levels of which have been associated with psoriasis. Avoid foods that promote inflammation or are hard to digest, such as red meat, dairy, fatty or fried foods, alcohol and foods high in refined sugar. Food allergies can also trigger episodes of psoriasis.
Sunlight exposure: Light therapy is a helpful treatment for psoriasis. While many doctors offer UVA and UVB treatments at their office, you can also obtain ultraviolet rays from controlled sun exposure. The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends starting small with just five to 10 minutes of sun exposure daily, preferably around noon, then adding 30 seconds each day to find the right amount of exposure for your skin. Be sure to fully expose any patches of psoriasis and wear sunscreen over any patches of skin not afflicted to protect them from sun damage.
Hydration: For those with psoriasis, it’s important to keep the skin moisturized. Showering, soaking in a tub, swimming and other water-immersing activities can hydrate skin and help remove patches of scales, if done correctly. For an easy treatment, soak in a lukewarm or tepid bath (not hot; hot water can strip skin and leave it itchy), pat skin dry and immediately apply a thick emollient or body oil to help lock in moisture. Salves can also be beneficial, especially if they contain skin-soothing herbs such as calendula. Soap can dry out and irritate skin; instead, consider a gentle cleanser designed for dry skin.
Supplements and Herbs for Psoriasis
Fish oil contains essential fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties beneficial for treating psoriasis. Take a standardized dose daily.
Milk thistle helps the liver remove toxins from the body, aiding in the body’s natural detox process. Take 250 mg three times daily.
Aloe vera can be taken internally or applied topically to treat psoriasis. Drink a quarter cup of aloe vera juice or apply pure aloe gel, taken from the leaves of the plant, to affected skin to benefit from this plant’s cooling, anti-inflammatory effects.
Turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory effects that make it beneficial for treating psoriasis, and some studies have even shown that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can alter gene expression, including a particular type that can minimize psoriasis flares. Turmeric also enhances detoxification. Take 1 gram of dried turmeric in capsule form daily, or add liberal amounts of turmeric to your cooking.
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Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on Google+.