Psoriasis is a quite common but complex chronic, relapsing skin condition linked to increased inflammation and overactive immune system. Some say it’s one of the most difficult conditions to improve either from conventional or naturopathic viewpoints.
I find that to make a significant difference and achieve good clinical results, psoriasis must always be addressed on many levels, including emotional and nervous system support. It always gives me such great satisfaction to be able to help clients to achieve a long-term remission or a complete resolution of symptoms, and witness the many positive changes in their lives such as the renewed confidence, self-assurance facing the world and generally getting their mojo back!
Therefore, I’d like to share my clinical insights and hope you’ll find them helpful to learn about my therapeutic approach when working with clients affected by psoriasis. I have also included a clinical case study where I outline specific steps and therapies applied, to give you a better understanding of what’s involved.
Psoriasis: symptoms and types
It’s estimated that between 1% and 5% of the world population are affected by psoriasis. In Australia over 1.6 million people live with this condition. Psoriasis can occur at any age; however, the disorder tends to occur around adolescence (16-22 years, usually more severe type linked to genetics) and later in life (57-60 years, less severe type).
So, psoriasis is quite a common, multi-system, inflammatory disease that primarily affects the skin but also have metabolic, cardiovascular and immune manifestations. The disease causes speeding up the life cycle of skin cells and causes them to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. This pile up of skin cells that replicated too rapidly (up to 1000 times more than normal) gets too large and can’t shed at the same rate, causing the silvery scales to accumulate.
The extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes painful. The areas most commonly affected are the scalp, elbows and knees, but psoriasis can occur anywhere on the body.
Psoriasis signs and symptoms are different for everyone; however, common signs and symptoms include:
- Red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- Itching, burning or soreness
- Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
- Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
- Swollen and stiff joints
Psoriasis has many subtypes and each manifests with specific signs and symptoms. Most types of psoriasis go through cycles: flair-ups for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a time or even going into complete remission. So, it’s a chronic disease that often comes and goes.
There are several types of psoriasis:
- Plaque psoriasis – the most common form, plaque psoriasis causes dry, raised, red skin lesions (plaques) covered with silvery scales. The plaques might be itchy or painful and there may be few or many. They can occur anywhere on the body.
- Nail psoriasis – psoriasis can affect fingernails and toenails, causing pitting, abnormal nail growth, poor quality nails and discolouration. The nails might loosen and separate from the nail bed.
- Guttate psoriasis – this type primarily affects young adults and children. It’s usually triggered by a bacterial infection such as strep throat. It manifests as small, water-drop-shaped, scaling lesions on the trunk, arms, legs and scalp. The lesions are covered by a fine scale and aren’t as thick as typi