Are you concerned with your appearance? How your skin looks? The glances or stares you receive from others? Trying to cover your skin despite the outside temperature? These are concerns many people living with psoriasis have on a daily basis. August is Psoriasis Awareness Month, and Harmony Home Care wants to educate you on the basics of psoriasis, and offer tips and coping strategies for those affected by the disease. Read on for more information!
4 Things You May Not Know About Psoriasis
What is it?
- According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis is an autoimmune disease (a disease in which the body’s tissues are attacked by its own immune system) that causes scaly, red, raised patches to appear on the skin. These patches are, essentially, a build-up of extra skin cells. Most often, it will appear on the scalp, knees, or outside of the elbows, but it can also appear on the ears, eyelids, mouth area, hands and feet, nails, and skin folds. Unfortunately, it can be quite painful, itchy, dry, and unpleasant overall.
Is it contagious?
- The simple answer is—no. Although the inflamed appearance of psoriasis could appear similar to that of an infection on the skin, it cannot be passed from person-to-person.
How is it treated?
- There are multiple treatment methods for psoriasis. Since it can appear on so many different areas of the body, all of which have different types of skin, the treatment can vary greatly. Light therapy or phototherapy is a common treatment, which involves both natural and artificial sunlight. Topical creams and ointments are also commonly used in treating psoriasis. In more severe cases, oral or injected medications can also be used. According to The Mayo Clinic, the goal of these treatments is to find the most effective way to slow the over-production of skin cells with the least amount of side effects possible. If you think you’re in need of treatment, consult with your doctor to find the best option for you.
Is it curable?
- Unfortunately, there is no cure for psoriasis at this time. However, in identifying triggers, treatments, and coping strategies, there are ways to manage the condition until a cure can be found. Keep reading for more information.
Living with Psoriasis
According to The Mayo Clinic, psoriasis usually begins or worsens due to a trigger that you may be able to identify and avoid. Triggers include but are not limited to the following:
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Cold weather
- Infections, such as strep throat or skin infections
- Injuries to the skin, such as bug bites, cuts, or severe sunburn
- Certain medications, including some blood pressure, heart, arthritis, and bi-polar medications
Living with psoriasis can certainly be challenging. However, try to avoid the triggers mentioned above, if possible, in order to reduce psoriasis flare-ups and improve the way your skin looks and feels.
- Avoiding alcohol and smoking is beneficial not only to your skin, but to your overall health as well.
- Taking daily baths, with added bath oils or salts, and mild, moisturizing soaps can calm the skin and lessen the appearance of scales.
- After bathing and gently toweling off, use a thick moisturizer before your skin dries completely. During cold winter months it is beneficial to reapply the moisturizer multiple times throughout the day.
- Knowledge is power! First and foremost, the best thing you can do for yourself when diagnosed with any medical condition or disease is to educate yourself and those around you. Figure out what makes this condition tick, and ask yourself the following questions: What are the possible treatments? What research is currently being done? Are there clinical trials or research studies that I can participate in? What organizations are helping myself and others with this condition? Next, once you have educated yourself, it is important to educate the people around you. Help your friends and family to understand so that they are able to better support you, and also raise awareness themselves.
- Manage your stress. Stress is a double-edged sword when it comes to psoriasis—it can trigger psoriasis flare-ups, but at the same time, these flare-ups can cause you even more stress! To help fight stress, do things that help you unwind and relax—read a book, meditate, listen to music, take a warm bath, spend time outdoors enjoying nature, etc. Regular exercise can also do wonders for managing your stress and psoriasis flare-ups. Lastly, try participating in some therapy sessions in order to find new stress management ideas that might work better for you.
- Always follow doctor’s orders! Trust in your doctor’s recommendations, and follow them. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. They are there to help you and guide you through these challenges, and want you to feel as comfortable with your condition as possible.
- Lean on others for support. There are support groups out there for people just like you, who are going through the same difficulties that living with psoriasis can bring. Sharing these similar experiences and concerns can be a great comfort, and also a great education tool. Check out our free downloadable guide below in order to find resources on support groups near you!
Do you have any additional tips on living with psoriasis, or educating others about the disease? Comment below! We would love to hear from you!
Harmony is founded with a single focus in mind: providing compassionate home care and home healthcare to the residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Our trustworthy caregivers are ready to lend a helping hand to your mother, father, children, and loved ones in Somerset County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, and many more locations throughout the region. Contact us and one of our patient advocates will be happy to discuss how Harmony's programs can help your family today.