At Fulham Scalp & Hair Clinic, we understand the toll that psoriasis can take on your physical and emotional well-being. Therefore, we’ve created this comprehensive guide to triggers and treatments for psoriasis. We want to provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your skin health and empower you to take action.
Are you struggling with psoriasis and searching for effective ways to manage your symptoms? You’re not alone. Psoriasis is a challenging skin condition that affects millions of men and women worldwide, causing scaly patches on the body and scalp that can be itchy, painful, and embarrassing.
But there is hope.
With the help of qualified trichologists, you can find relief and regain control of your skin health.
We’re discussing the common triggers for psoriasis, such as stress, infections, and certain medications, and provide you with practical tips to manage and avoid these triggers. We’ll also explore the various treatment options available, including topical treatments, phototherapy, systemic medications, and lifestyle changes.
Our goal is to give you a complete understanding of the condition and equip you with the tools you need to manage it effectively.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that affects the skin, causing red, scaly patches to form. Research indicates that it occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, causing them to build up and form patches. However, there may also be genetic and environmental factors at play. These patches can be itchy, painful, and embarrassing and can appear anywhere on the body, including the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back.
While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are many treatments available that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
Triggers for Psoriasis
Psoriasis can be triggered by various factors, including stress, infections, and certain medications. Here are some of the most common triggers for psoriasis:
- Stress: Stress is a well-known trigger for psoriasis. When you are stressed, your body releases hormones that can cause inflammation in the skin, leading to psoriasis flare-ups.
- Infections: Infections such as strep throat can trigger psoriasis in some people. This is because the immune system responds to the infection by producing more white blood cells, which can also cause inflammation in the skin.
- Medications: Some medications, such as lithium, antimalarials, and beta-blockers, can trigger psoriasis in some people. If you are taking any of these medications and experience psoriasis symptoms, talk to your doctor.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can trigger psoriasis in some people. This may be because alcohol can weaken the immune system and increase inflammation in the skin.
- Smoking: Smoking can also trigger psoriasis in some people. This is because smoking can weaken the immune system and increase inflammation in the skin.
Treatments for Psoriasis
While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms. Here are some of the most common treatments for psoriasis:
Topical Treatments for Psoriasis
Trichologists often prescribe topical treatments for psoriasis, which are medications that are applied directly to the skin. These treatments can help reduce inflammation, itching, and scaling and can be effective for mild to moderate psoriasis. Some commonly prescribed topical treatments for psoriasis include corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, and retinoids.
Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications that can help reduce redness, swelling, and itching associated with psoriasis. They work by suppressing the immune system and reducing the activity of skin cells. Vitamin D analogues, on the other hand, help to slow down the growth of skin cells and reduce inflammation. They are often used in combination with corticosteroids for maximum effectiveness.
Retinoids are another type of medication that can be effective for psoriasis. They work by normalising the growth of skin cells and reducing inflammation. However, they can cause some side effects, such as skin irritation and increased sensitivity to sunlight.
Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, is a treatment for psoriasis that involves exposing the affected skin to ultraviolet (UV) light. This type of therapy can help slow down the growth of skin cells and reduce inflammation, which are two key factors in psoriasis.
During a phototherapy session, a person with psoriasis stands in a lightbox or sits under a lamp that emits UV light. The light penetrates the skin and slows down the growth of skin cells, which can help reduce the thickness and scaling of psoriasis patches. The light also has an anti-inflammatory effect, which can help reduce redness and itching.
There are several types of phototherapy available, including narrowband UVB, broad-spectrum UVB, and PUVA (psoralen plus UVA) therapy. The type of phototherapy recommended will depend on the severity of psoriasis and other factors, such as a person’s medical history.
While phototherapy can be an effective treatment for psoriasis, it is important to follow the treatment plan prescribed by a qualified trichologist. Overexposure to UV light can increase the risk of skin cancer and other skin conditions, so it’s important to use the right type of light and follow safety guidelines.
In cases of severe psoriasis, topical treatments may not be sufficient, and a trichologist may recommend systemic medications. Systemic medications are taken orally or by injection and work throughout the body to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation.
One common class of systemic medications used to treat psoriasis is called biologics. Biologics are genetically engineered proteins that target specific parts of the immune system that are involved in psoriasis. They are administered by injection or infusion and can be highly effective in reducing the symptoms of psoriasis.
Another class of systemic medications used to treat psoriasis are called oral retinoids. These medications are derived from vitamin A and work by slowing down the growth of skin cells and reducing inflammation. However, they can cause some side effects, such as dryness, itching, and increased sensitivity to sunlight.
Methotrexate is another systemic medication that can be used to treat psoriasis. It works by suppressing the immune system and reducing the activity of skin cells. However, it can cause side effects such as nausea, fatigue, and increased risk of infection.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Psoriasis
In addition to medical treatments for psoriasis, lifestyle changes can also be helpful in managing the symptoms of psoriasis. Here are some of the most effective lifestyle changes that can help:
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Obesity can worsen psoriasis symptoms, so maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise is important.
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking: Both alcohol and smoking can trigger psoriasis flare-ups, so avoiding them can help reduce symptoms.
- Managing stress: Stress is a known trigger for psoriasis, so learning stress management techniques such as meditation or yoga can be helpful.
- Getting enough sleep: Poor sleep can trigger psoriasis symptoms, so getting enough sleep each night can be beneficial.
- Using gentle skincare products: Harsh soaps and skin products can irritate psoriasis, so using gentle products and moisturising regularly can help soothe the skin.
- Exposing skin to sunlight: Sunlight can help improve psoriasis symptoms, so getting some sun exposure each day can be helpful. However, it’s essential to use sunscreen and avoid overexposure, which can worsen symptoms.
- Eating a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein can help reduce inflammation and improve overall health, which can, in turn, help manage psoriasis symptoms.
Overall, lifestyle changes can be an effective way to manage psoriasis symptoms and improve overall health. By making these changes, people with psoriasis can help reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups and improve their quality of life.
Managing Your Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a complex condition that can be extremely difficult to manage. However, with the right treatment and lifestyle changes, it is possible to reduce the frequency and severity of psoriasis flare-ups.
If you are battling with psoriasis symptoms, please reach out to us. We specialise in assisting those with hair and scalp issues and the challenges that come with these.