If you’re suffering from psoriasis, you’re not alone. According to the World Health Organisation, psoriasis affects 100 million individuals world-wide. That’s anywhere from 2% to 3% of the entire population!
Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that causes inflammation in the body. In other words, it’s a disease with an unclear cause that is characterised by inflammation, caused by dysfunction of the immune system.
The overactive immune system speeds up skin cell growth. Normal skin cells completely grow and shed within a month. With psoriasis, skin cells do this in only three or four days. Instead of shedding, the skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin.
Essentially, the body attacks the skin, and this leads to a breakdown of the skin barrier. And we know that an impaired barrier function leads to all kinds of problems!
What does psoriasis look like? There may be visible signs of the inflammation such as raised plaques and scales on the skin. Some people have psoriasis plaques that itch, burn and sting. Plaques and scales may appear on any part of the body, although they are commonly found on the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp.
It can look unsightly, but psoriasis is not contagious or infectious.
Symptoms usually often start between ages 15 and 25, but can start at any age. Men, women, and children of all skin colours can get psoriasis, although studies show it’s most common in Caucasian skin.
There are five types of psoriasis. It’s possible to have more than one type of psoriasis at one time and more than one type in a lifetime.
There can be different triggers for psoriasis, causing symptoms to appear or worsen. Determining what your particular triggers are is essential. Anything that can cause stress on the skin - a drastic change in temperature or tight clothing, or anything that can irritate the skin, such as certain skincare ingredients, or rough fabrics, can cause a psoriasis flare-up.
Other common triggers for psoriasis include stress, illness (particularly strep infections), injury to the skin and certain medications. Psoriasis tends to be worse in the colder, drier months. Warm weather can often improve psoriasis because of natural sunlight and higher humidity, and swimming in salt water can also help slough off dead skin cells, improving the look of psoriasis patches. So moving to a tropical climate is ideal!
While scientists do not know what exactly causes psoriasis, we do know the immune system and genetics play key roles. The genetics of psoriasis are rather complex, and it is possible to develop psoriasis even if you have no family history of the disease.
Treating psoriasis is very important. Effective treatment of psoriasis not only manages skin symptoms but may also help to reduce inflammation in the body that could lead to other diseases. Inflammation and oxidative stress go hand in hand.
Even people living with mild psoriasis (appearing on less than 3% of the body) may have significant inflammation in the body.
Inflammation caused by psoriasis can also impact other organs and tissues in the body. Common comorbidities of psoriasis include psoriatic arthritis, cardiovascular (heart) disease, metabolic syndrome and mental health concerns.
One in three people with psoriasis may also develop psoriatic arthritis. Signs of this include swelling, stiffness and pain in the joints and areas surrounding the joints. In its milder forms, psoriatic arthritis often goes undiagnosed.
Treatment may vary depending on the type and location of the psoriasis, as well as the severity of symptoms.
Most psoriasis sufferers long to manage the intense itch and pain affecting their skin and to feel confident wearing certain clothes. They don’t want to keep brushing off or vacuuming scales that fall from plaques. They also wish for their physical symptoms to be less obvious.
The standard medical route is to try a number of medications that may help, ranging from topical steroids to oral immunosuppressants. Topical steroids are never an ideal option for long term use, as it has negative side effects, such as the thinning of the skin. (although in some cases they are absolutely necessary!)
The use of cannabis (CBD) can really play a large role here. CBD’s anti-inflammatory response is thought to work through its inhibition of eicosanoid enzymes (which can cause inflammation) and the elevation of the anti-inflammatory cytokine molecules.
This is similar to how mainstream medications like NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) and steroids work.
The effects of CBD are made possible primarily through cannabinoid receptors that are activated by the inflammatory response. Cannabinoids stimulate these same receptors, and in the process help modulate pain sensation and inflammation.
This is great news for anyone looking for a natural treatment option.
Doctors generally agree that regular moisturising is essential. It improves symptoms, particularly itchiness and scales. Thick, rich moisturisers, which are a bit occlusive will help seal and protect the skin barrier that's been broken down due to the psoriasis.
The Goodleaf CBD Body Lotion is a great option here. It nourishes the skin with its ultra-hydrating formulation of omega-rich Kalahari melon and marula oil with shea butter. The CBD is also an anti-inflammatory, which could reduce itching.
Partner this with the Goodleaf CBD Hemp Infused Body Wash to use daily in the shower.
Many psoriatic patients are tempted to use scrubs to remove the excess skin build up, but this will only further damage their already compromised skin and possibly cause further flare-ups.
I would also strongly suggest trying the Goodleaf CBD Oil Drops. These are taken orally and work in the same way to reduce inflammation and pain. CBD is excellent for anxiety and stress which can further exacerbate psoriasis.
It’s always ideal to to try and treat inflammatory skin conditions both internally and externally.
Unfortunately, there’s no getting rid of psoriasis, but if you're one of the millions of people who has it, there are plenty of different ways that you can manage it and keep it under control.
Sarah Daly is a dermal aesthetic therapist and salon owner with over 20 years experience in treating every skin type and skin concern.