Psoriasis? How am I going to deal with this?

Carla Hellemond

Psoriasis is a skin condition that affects 2-3% of the world’s population, around 125 million people.  This chronic condition is the most common auto-immune disease in the USA. 

Symptoms can appear as elevated, red, flaky patches on the skin’s surface.  Most people suffering from psoriasis experience an itchy, burning or stinging sensation.  The cause of this disease is not fully understood, although it is believed to be genetic, and influenced by environmental factors.  Changes in climate, obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and stress can trigger psoriasis outbreaks.

Plaque psoriasis is the most prevalent form of the disease.  It usually appears on knees, elbows, scalp or lower back and the itchy patches often crack or bleed.  The discomfort can adversely affect daily tasks and may keep the sufferer awake at night.

Close to 30% of people diagnosed with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis.  Usually one or more of the following symptoms occur: fatigue, swelling of the joints, decreased range of motion, or changes in the nails.  Joints in the hands and feet are often the most affected areas, potentially swelling so much they take on a sausage-like appearance (dactylitis).

Psoriasis sufferers often experience feelings of low self-esteem and depression.  Fear of public rejection and the falsehood that the condition is contagious contribute to a poor self-image.  Addressing the issue, and working towards a healthy clean lifestyle (attention to exercise and diet), can help combat these negative feelings, while having a positive effect on reducing flare-ups.

Psoriasis is not cure-able, but various treatments can help to control the symptoms and keep outbreaks at a minimum.  Moisturizers such as mineral oil, Vaseline or Calcipotriol are often prescribed.  Ointments with ingredients such as coal tar or corticosteroids are also routinely used for treatment.  

Anthony Snodon works at the ship yards in Victoria BC.  He has been dealing with psoriasis issues on his elbows since he was a teen.  He had this to say about the treatment of his condition:

“For years I have tried many different treatments for psoriasis. Some worked for a while, some didn’t work at all, but nothing seemed to provide continued relief. A friend recommended I try emu oil.  I was skeptical at first, because none of the other remedies I tried worked over the long term. Emu oil started to moisturize my elbows instantly when applied.  It has continued to work for me and keeps the inflammation down to a minimum. Honestly, I am not interested in applying the petroleum based products I was prescribed for treatment. I prefer to use all natural emu oil.”

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