Psoriasis: What you can do

by Henrylito D. Tacio

Unpredictable, intractable, and unsightly, psoriasis is one of the most persistent of skin disorders. Although doctors are trying to understand more about it, psoriasis “continues to baffle medical science,” says Dr Joyce Lim, a visiting consultant dermatologist at the National Skin Centre in Singapore.

Normally, our skin takes one month to mature but for those with psoriasis it takes only three to four days. Although it isn’t contagious, there is still no known cure.

However, there are many things you can do about it. But the hitch is, what works for someone else may not work you. So, you have to keep on experimenting. Here are some strategies from the experts:

* Accept your situation and take control. Since you have it already, try to focus your attention on how to manage the disease and prevent it from getting serious. “If you have a positive attitude towards your skin problem, you will be able to handle it better,” says Dr Tham Siew Nee, a consultant dermatologist at Gleneagles Medical Center in Singapore.

* Apply emollients. People with psoriasis tend to have dry scaly patches. As such, emollients top every dermatologist’s list of over-the-counter treatments. “Repeated studies have shown that with the application of emollients alone, up to about a third of the psoriasis patients improved in their skin condition,” explains Dr Tham. “Emollients improves the integrity of the skin and soothes irritated and inflamed skin.”

* Soothe your skin. Oftentimes, people with psoriasis take a bath more than once using warm water. Unfortunately, this leaves their skin drier than ever. Using bath oil in the tub to “moisture and sooth the skin,” says Dr Tham. “Oatmeal bath is also soothing.”

* Soak up the sun. Many patients with psoriasis are advised to undergo specific ultraviolet light treatments. While experts recommend a special lamp or tanning booth, you can lie under the sun. “However, the intensity of the ultra-violet rays vary from day to day and from time to time,” reminds Dr Tham.

* Get help from your kitchen. Feeling itchy, look no farther. Go to your kitchen and dissolve that baking soda. Apply it in itchy areas. “Baking soda has an anti-inflammatory effect and also helps get rid itch,” says Dr Lim.

* Don’t go on binge. “Those with severe psoriasis may need to take tablets, some of which are potentially toxic to the liver,” explains Dr Tham. “We usually discourage them from drinking to keep their liver healthy.”

* Cover the cracks with cream. If your skin is cracked because of psoriasis, use cream. “Apply the recommended creams regularly to keep the condition under control,” says Dr Tham.

* Avoid injuring the skin. “Do not scratch the skin to avoid injuries,” advises Dr Tham. “In some people with psoriasis, injury to the skin can aggravate psoriasis.”

* Don’t worry; be happy. Psoriasis has been observed to flare up when a person is under some form of stress. “Avoid stress – both physical and mental,” advises Dr Lim. — ###


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