Itchy winter skin is one thing, but the chronic, silvery scaling of psoriasis is another.
For many sufferers of psoriasis, winter often heralds an increase in red, patchy areas of silvery scaling skin. As one of the most common skin disorders, psoriasis can plague people for many years, but is most common between 15-30 years old, worsening with stress, diet and climate.
When extreme, psoriasis can lead to deformation of the fingernails or widespread inflammation and redness of the skin, irritated by the slightest touch of rough fabric, or other trauma to the skin.
What defines psoriasis?
Well defined, raised red plaques, covered with a silvery scale
Often symmetrical lesions (on both sides of the body)
Often on the extensor aspects (e.g elbows, back of the forearms, shins, scalp)
Tiny spot bleeding underneath the scale when scratched
Hypopigmented (usually white) or hyperpigmented (dark) areas of skin after the rashes heal
Typical treatment for psoriasis include: topical steroid creams, or if extreme, oral steroids and antibiotics if there are secondary infections, or UV therapy. Some cases of psoriasis respond well to steroid creams, others constantly relapse and experience thinning skin.
In Chinese Medicine, raw Chinese herbal formulas are our go-to for most serious skin conditions, as they allow us to target the internal inflammation and promote skin healing. We often combine them with Acupuncture to help with accompanying triggers such as stress or digestive problems.
In ‘active phases’ (where new rashes occur) we focus on reducing the heat, inflammation and the itch. Once new rashes have stopped and skin begins healing, we focus on promoting tissue regeneration, with nourishing herbs to combat dryness and relieve any lingering inflammation.
If you do suffer from Psoriasis, limit your intake of alcohol, spicy, greasy foods and encourage good sleep and reduced stress.
Psoriasis can be a stubborn and irritating disease, but with the right treatment and patience, it may see some amazing results.
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Lani Stokes - Registered Acupuncturist & Chinese Herbalist