Psoriasis is a type of auto-immune disease with inflammatory symptoms resulting in skin disorders that some believe is hereditary. The outcome is raised patches of pink dead skin, which can be extremely painful, though the disease is not at all infectious.
The symptoms go downhill with infections, emotional imbalances, stress, or other non-related illnesses. Psoriasis is commonly seen in body parts like chest, elbows, the scalp, and knees. The rash may get worse if it is directly exposed to sunlight for a long period of time and it may also reoccur repeatedly and unexpectedly.
Topical treatments can offer instant relief; however, the most effective method of tackling this skin disorder is by adopting an all-natural approach of treatment and treating emotions that may trigger the symptoms.
Conventional vs Natural Treatment For Psoriasis
Psoriasis is no different from any other autoimmune condition; they know little about it and they can do little to treat it, except for dealing with the symptoms as and when they occur. Unfortunately even on this front, the results are usually dismal, and that is what sends patients towards alternative treatment modalities.
To add to the problem, immunosuppressant drugs like cyclosporine, alefacept and efalizumab as well as corticosteroids and oral retinoids are all known to have serious side effects. Even if you were to contend with these side effects, the fact is that none of them are universally effective.
In contrast and as discussed above, simple natural remedies like aloe vera and curcumin as well as alternative therapies like lifestyle and dietary changes offer conspicuously positive results against psoriasis, without the dangerous side effects of conventional drugs.
Another plus for natural treatments, such as aromatherapy and the topical use of essential oils, is that they also help to control the psychological effects of psoriasis. Several essential oils could be useful when it comes to the treatment of psoriasis. Some are known for their detoxifying effects, while there are others that are known for their moisturizing ability. In addition, they have the remarkable ability of minimizing stress, and their antibacterial qualities support the defense mechanisms of the body.
Facts About Psoriasis
The two images below show 15 facts about psoriasis.
Causes Of Psoriasis
The medical community still has not reached a consensus on whether psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder or a chronic skin condition. However, everybody agrees on the fact that T-cells or the body’s defenders do have a central role in the problem.
In psoriasis, these T-cells attack and kill the skin cells, as if they were external threats. The body boosts the production of dermal cells by almost 10 times, to make up for the loss as if it were trying to heal a wound. Together, these abnormalities lead to inflamed patches that are covered by an accumulation of dead skin cells.
Recent research has revealed that the hyper-immune response may be triggered by an abnormal response to normal dermal bacteria. These critters do not elicit such a response in people who don’t suffer from psoriasis.
Why the immune system goes into battle mode is something that they have not figured out as yet. But, what experts do know is that there are several triggers and risk factors that can lead to flare-ups. These include:
- Hormonal fluctuations (during menopause, pregnancy or puberty)
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Skin injuries
- Throat infections
- Skin infections
- Other autoimmune conditions
- Disorders that affect the immune system like HIV
- Certain medication (ACE inhibitors, antimalarial drugs, some NSAIDs, lithium)
Symptoms Of Psoriasis
Because there is an ongoing attack against the skin, the symptoms of psoriasis include:
- Red patches covered by white/gray scales
- Moderate itching and/or burning or stinging of the plaques
- Dryness and lesions that may bleed or ooze
- Cracking of the skin around the joints
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Plaques on and around the scalp
- Ridged, dented, pitted nails
- Crumbling of the nails
- Pus filled blisters on the skin (pustular psoriasis needs medical attention)
- Intensely itchy/burning rash all over the body (Erythrodermic psoriasis is rare and a medical emergency)
When To See Your Doctor?
- Worsening of the symptoms
- Fever and chills
- Soreness and inflammation of joints
- Muscle pain
- Appearance of pus filled rash
- Intense flare-up or frequent flare-ups
- You have psoriasis and you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy
- Symptoms are keeping you away from social engagements
- The discomfort is causing sleep disturbances and is a hindrance in daily life
Psoriasis vs Dermatitis
Even doctors find it hard sometimes to distinguish between these two conditions. The problem is that not only the symptoms but also the causes of both ailments are almost the same.
The starting point:
Both psoriasis and eczema involve abnormal behavior of the immune system. Although the jury is still out on whether psoriasis can be considered an autoimmune condition, what we do know is that inflammation is involved in both conditions and this comes courtesy of a hyper immune response to normally innocuous substances or microorganism. Because there is no infection involved, neither psoriasis nor eczema is contagious.
Red and itchy patches are common to both conditions, as is dermal dryness and flaking. But, psoriasis also leads to significant scaling of the skin, and the discomfort has a distinct burning and stinging quality to it.
Eczema leads to intense itching while psoriasis only causes mild itching. Eczema starts very early, with as many as 10% of infants and children younger than 5 years of age suffering from the condition. In contrast, psoriasis develops later, usually between 15 – 35 years.
Dermal irritants as well as other allergens like pet dander, pollen, dust and certain food items can all trigger eczema. A flare up may also result from stress and infection.
Psoriasis is mostly triggered by infection or stress and dermal insults like scratches and sunburns. Certain types of medication are also known to trigger the condition.
Scope of treatment and cure:
Both are chronic immune-inflammatory conditions that can be kept in control within reason, but cannot be cured.
Involvement of other organs:
In 10-30% cases, psoriasis patients also suffer from psoriatic arthritis. Moreover, the condition also affects the nails. These issues are not encountered by eczema patients.
Risk of relapse:
Because eczema and psoriasis are rooted in immune anomalies, they both have periods of remission and flare-ups.
Psoriasis vs Ringworm
In terms of overt symptoms, yes, it is easy to confuse psoriasis and ringworm. After all, both of them cause itchy red rash, dermal dryness and scaly skin, but that’s where the similarity ends.
I have already told you that psoriasis is an auto-immune condition. In contrast, ringworm, as its name indicates, involves the menace of critters.
Even though the patchiness of psoriasis is hardly a sight to behold, the ailment is not contagious no matter how large or wide spread the affected areas. But the itchy redness of ringworm is caused by germs, so it does get transmitted to those in close contact.
Scope of treatment:
A fungal disorder, ringworm does heed to the use of the right anti-fungal preparations. Hence, unlike psoriasis, it is a short lived condition that can be completely cured.
Psoriasis remains poorly understood like other auto-immune ailments. This means that although the condition is treatable, there is no way to cure it.
The itching caused by ringworm is far more intense than that of psoriasis. However, the scaly patches of psoriasis can cause both itching and burning pain. The scales and the dryness can also lead to skin cracks and bleeding.
The most distinctive visible symptom of psoriasis is the significant white scaling on the red patches. On the other hand, ringworm leads to red, circular patches with some amount of scaling but a clear center. It almost looks like a worm is living under the red patch.
Involvement of other organs:
Ringworm is an infectious skin ailment, which means that it does not impact the other parts of the body. As opposed to this, the effects of psoriasis can be felt in other areas as well. For instance, along with the scaly patches, you may also have musculoskeletal pain and stiffness and pitted and ridged nails.
Risk of relapse:
Psoriasis may have periods of remission like other auto-immune conditions but the ailment, more often than not, comes back with a vengeance unless kept in control.
Things work differently with ringworm, as the symptoms do ebb away with the use of anti-fungal medication. Unless you are infected again, there won’t be a round two of the symptoms.
How Can Essential Oils Help With Psoriasis?
Cyclooxygenase or COX are enzymes that play a vital role in the formation of compounds that cause pain and inflammation. Most NSAIDs are inhibitors of COX-2, an enzyme from the family that is central to the body’s inflammatory response.
So, NSAIDs work by blocking COX-2, which eases the pain and the inflammation. Many essential oils are potent COX-2 inhibitors that work just as well and even better than OTC painkillers, with the difference that unlike these drugs, essential oils have no side effects.
2. TNF-alpha inhibitors
Tumor necrosis factor-alpha is an inflammatory protein that triggers and continues the inflammatory process in the body. Think of this cytokine as the army of your immune system that is responsible for every symptom of inflammation. Those who suffer from psoriasis have very high levels of TNF. Modern medicine tries to remedy the situation with immune-modulators.
But, when you remove the defenders from the system, your body is left vulnerable to critter attacks. With essential oils, it is possible to inhibit TNF at the site of application, without causing a systemic effect that leaves you open to infections.
3. Relief from itching and burning
Also, these oils offer almost immediate reprieve from the discomfort of psoriasis. Be it pain, itching, stinging or burning, essential oils offer lightning fast relief, which equates to a lower risk of ending up with scratch wounds and infections.
How To Use Essential Oils For Psoriasis?
- A bath to soothe inflamed and itchy areas of the body.
- A scrub made by mixing herbal powders with essential oils that sloughs off the dead cells gently.
- A moisturizer to lower the risk of flare-ups.
- As a spot treatment to control the inflammation and discomfort.
- As a shampoo to keep the scalp free of inflammation and infection.
- In the diffuser to get rid of stress that may be the cause or the result of psoriasis.