In continuing our series of blog posts on psoriasis, we’re diving into the diagnosis and treatments. See our previous blog posts with general information about psoriasis, its comorbidities and chronic conditions associated with psoriasis.
A dermatologist or doctor can diagnose a person who suspects they have psoriasis. The patient’s skin, scalp, and nails are examined, and on occasion, a skin biopsy may be required to determine a diagnosis and to rule out other possible conditions. Before the biopsy, a small amount of local anesthetic is used to numb the area to be sampled. A small sample is taken and sent to the laboratory for a pathologist examination to confirm the diagnosis. Depending on the type of biopsy, a stitch or two may be required to close the skin and allow it to heal. With proper wound care, a biopsy can heal with minimal to no scarring.
Treatment for psoriasis can vary from traditional medication like creams, light therapy, pills or injections, to alternative medication like supplements, foods or plant based treatments.
Topical treatments are available as creams, lotions, ointments, solutions or oils that can be applied to the skin to treat psoriasis. These include topical steroids, vitamin D based topicals, vitamin A or retinol based topicals, immune system deactivating topicals, salicylic acid topicals and moisturizers. Although most effective topicals are available by prescription from a doctor, there are some creams available over-the-counter.
Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, including sunlight, UVB, PUVA, and excimer laser are traditional methods of treating psoriasis. Each type of phototherapy is different and results vary based on the severity and location of psoriasis on the body. Light therapy is very safe and does not come with many side effects.
Oral medications are available for psoriasis and includes methotrexate, cyclosporine, retinoids and Otezla. These essentially help suppress the immune system and inflammation in the body.
Biologic medications are drugs that change the immune system and are used to treat moderate and severe psoriasis. For example, Otezla is an approved biologic medication that comes in a pill. All other approved biologic medications are injections, including Humira, Remicade, Enbrel, Simponi, Stelara, Cosentyx and Taltz among others. Traditionally, these injections are selected after topical or other traditional treatments are ineffective in treating psoriasis.
Alternative and home remedies include moisturizers, daily baths, short exposures to sunlight, consuming anti-inflammatory foods, avoiding alcohol or other psoriasis triggers. Check out our social media posts on anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, ginger, green tea and green leafy vegetables to learn more!
Frequent exercise, a diet limiting intake of foods high in fat and sugar, and practicing meditation or stress-relieving activities are all great ways to immediately start treating psoriasis.
In essence, an effective psoriasis treatment plan will include the needs of a patient, medical recommendations from the doctor and other available treatments based on the diagnosis. Each case of psoriasis is different, so one patient may be comfortable with more traditional medical treatments while another patient may want to use alternative treatments to avoid prescription medications. By working closely with your board-certified dermatologist, you can be educated about this condition and create an effective treatment plan.
At Skin Joy Dermatology, we place value in educating our patients about psoriasis and presenting all treatment options so an educated decision can be made together. Visit our website today to book a consultation.
What is Holistic Dermatology?
Holistic dermatology relies on using all-natural products and remedies to treat skin conditions. Using natural dermatology to treat the underlying causes of an individual’s skin problem using the least invasive means first.
What Causes Your Skin to Break Out?
Although everyone has different underlying causes for skin issues these are some common things that can cause anyone’s skin to break out. Acne affects up to 80% of people sometime during their lives. So, it’s important to know what might be causing the breakouts so you can preemptively treat the root causes instead of focusing only on the symptoms.
The simplest cause of most breakouts are clogged pores for an assortment of reasons. Acne of all stages, white heads, black heads and pimples are all caused when your hair follicles become clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells. Often time in addition to regular daily activities, excess sweating, make-up use or a build-up of other products can affect negatively affect your pores.
One of the biggest factors when it comes to breakouts is hormonal changes. Hormones fluctuate for many different reasons and stress is one of them that affects both genders. Emotional stress hasn’t been proven to trigger brand new cases of acne, but it can prolong or worsen existing breakouts.
Contrary to popular belief cutting out greasy foods alone has very little effect on acne. However, many studies have found links between worsened acne symptoms and dairy products, sugar, and carbohydrate-rich foods. It’s important to note that people's bodies respond differently to all types of dietary restrictions, so it may not be a quick fix.
Tips and Tricks for Effective Holistic Dermatology
While many people are stuck at home unable to visit the dermatologist, the following suggestions are some holistic acne treatment tips that can be used at home.
Simple Stress Relievers
When cooped up at home, or under pressure from outside sources it’s important to take time for yourself and acknowledge the connection between a person's mental health and their physical well-being. Practicing deep breathing or yoga, reducing your caffeine intake, exercising, lighting incense or candles and listening to music are all simple ways to reduce some stress that can have a positive effect on your skin.
It may be common sense that you should establish a routine even when at home, but it can easy to forget. Avoiding touching your face is not only a good suggestion to avoid getting sick and spreading germs but it also keeps extra dirt and bacteria from transferring from your fingertips to your pores. While it is important to remove excess oil, buildup, and sweat washing your face too frequently or with harsh chemicals and exfoliants can have adverse effects as well. Use warm, water and a mild cleanser, do not scrub, rinse with cool water, pat dry with a clean towel and follow up with a moisturizer of your choice.
Switch Up Your Diet
While you may not have a severe allergy to certain foods or food groups if you are noticing worsening skin issues such as dryness, discoloration, itchiness and increased breakouts it’s worth it to examine your diet. Keep a food journal to help you keep track or try your own version of an elimination diet if you already suspect certain types of foods may be causing a break out. In general, decreasing your intake of processed food and sugar is a great first step. Increasing cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts will help detoxify your system and fresh berries can help reduce inflammation.
Use Natural Products
There are some natural products that you may already have at home that can be used to relieve some symptoms. Dry bouts of inflammation like psoriasis or eczema can be soothed with ginger root, spirulina, and turmeric which are all-natural anti-inflammatory immune boosters. Oily skin and acne breakouts can be reduced with witch hazel and tea tree oil. Both of these can be used as a holistic treatment for acne because they address bacterial build up and help keep your skin clean and dry. Bakuchiol, a new and exciting holistic treatment has been shown to act like a natural retinoid, with less irritation. It can reduce acne and inflammation and prevent wrinkles.
Power Up with Probiotics & Supplements
Keeping your skin healthy from home can be as simple as boosting up your internal nutrients. A lot of nutrients come from our diet, however, sometimes supplements can help fill the gaps. Studies have linked increased intake of probiotics, omega-3’s, vitamin B, vitamin D, and zinc to benefiting people with acne. If you are unable to get these supplements, work on incorporating a nutrient-dense diet, make an effort to eat and drink things with higher levels of these key nutrients.
Consult with a holistic dermatologist online!
While non-emergency in-person appointments have been put on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, receiving a virtual consultation with a holistic skin care specialist to better understand your individual situation is highly recommended.