By Dr Harsh Sharma, DHMS, BHMS
Psoriasis is a common skin problem that makes the cells of the skin to grow at an alarming pace. This causes the buildup of skin cells on the surface of the skin and is seen as white, scaly, thick patches, though sometimes they may be red in colour. It is a chronic disease which means that it keeps troubling the patient and does not get better on its own. It commonly aggravates in the cold weather and gets better on its own in the hot weather. That is precisely why all psoriasis patients dread the arrival of winters. Psoriasis affects roughly 1-2 % of the population, which is a large number though there is little awareness about the disease. In fact, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding this disease. The most common misconception is that it is infectious in nature and that it will spread from one person to another. The reality is that psoriasis is not infectious and does not spread even when a person comes in contact with a patient. Therefore one need not avoid contact with any family member, relative or friend who is suffering from this problem.
The reality is that psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, in which there is a manifold increase in the cell division of the cells that line the outer layer of the skin. This results in a marked increase in the number of cells as the cell division may grow up to 1000 times the normal rate. These cells do not get enough time to become mature. Immature cells keep getting pushed up onto the outer layer of the skin as a large number of cells keep piling up from below. The immature cells are silvery white in appearance and look like dandruff. If one removes the scales by rubbing or scratching, the skin below looks red and raw as the cells are immature in nature.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
The most troublesome complaint that irritates the patient is the itching that occurs with psoriasis. At times, the itching is so intense that the patient feels like scratching and gnawing the skin raw. Moreover, the itching persists all the time with hardly any relief. The other thing that troubles the patient much is the cosmetic part that the skin looks ungainly, more so if it is present at the areas that are often exposed like arms, hands, face or head. In occasional cases, there may be involvement of joints, which become swollen, tender and painful. This is called Psoriatic Arthritis and affects almost 5-10% of the patients. In such cases, there may also be involvement of the nails of the hands and feet, which causes the nails to pit or change colour or even get separated from the nail bed.
The areas that are quite commonly involved in this disease happen to be those which bear pressure much more than other areas like buttocks, knees, elbows and the lower spine. Other areas that may be commonly affected are those which have suffered some injury.
Causes of Psoriasis
The exact cause of psoriasis is still a mystery though there are many factors that have been observed to be either associated with this problem or tend to aggravate this.
- Dryness of the skin This is a common feature that has been associated with psoriasis. This is also why it tends to get aggravated in winters as the skin becomes dry. Therefore, it is helpful to keep the skin hydrated by applying vaseline and also the intake of a good amount of water.
- Infections In some cases, it has been seen that a simple sore throat can aggravate the problem.
- Injury Any injury to the skin can cause a flare up and so can pressure and rubbing of the skin.
- Drugs The role of certain drugs like lithium and beta-blockers has also been observed in aggravating the trouble.
- Obesity Another factor that has been observed is that of increased body weight or obesity, which means that those who are overweight are more likely to suffer from this trouble.
- Diet Increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables helps to control the incidence of psoriasis.
Homoeopathy can cure Psoriasis
Homeopathy is like a boon to the patient suffering from psoriais as the homeopathic medicines not only reduce the inflammation of the skin but also act as anti-pruritic by reducing the itching of the skin, which is the most troublesome symptom for the patient. Homeopathic medicines like petroleum, Sepia, Thyroidinum and Psorinum have shown very good results in the treatment of psoriasis. It needs to be understood that a thorough analysis of the case at hand is necessary to select the right medicine.