A nice lady from across the pond called Katie Brind’Amour has been in touch and asked if I would print an article in this blog about her psoriasis-related work. I am not one to deny my – ooh, tens of readers any avenue to psoriasis treatment and and so who am I to say “no”? I do not know Katie and cannot personally endorse her work, but I share the information because … well, because she asked nicely. Here it is (with apologies for the American spellings :)):
Making a Move on Your Psoriasis—at Home
Many individuals with psoriasis are no strangers to home remedies or alternative therapies. Others are so desperate for symptom relief that they would bathe in a tub of mashed potatoes and tapioca pudding if someone told them it could clear psoriatic patches of skin. But which at-home treatments really have some evidence behind them?
Slather on Some Homey Goodness
Perhaps one of the most familiar methods for self-treatment of psoriasis is a topical cream or ointment. Instead of searching for the best dye-free, scent-free lotion since sliced bread, opt for a new topical option: oils. To be sure that none of your new home-based therapies for psoriasis interfere with other medications or ointments you may be using, check with your healthcare provider before making changes.
Fish oil (from over-the-counter supplement capsules or bottles) applied directly to the skin may help reduce inflammation and itching for some people. Olive oil or vegetable oil may also be massaged gently into the skin—including the scalp—to try to reduce scaling and improve moisture retention in the skin. Skin and hair products with tea tree oil may also help alleviate scalp psoriasis.
If oil doesn’t provide relief, consider a regular oat, Epsom salt, or Dead Sea salt bath to relieve redness and itchiness. Creams with aloe, capsaicin, or mahonia may also help stop pain and inflammation, although more research is still needed.
In addition to non-irritating lotions and oils, opt for cleansers, body washes, shampoos, and other hygiene products with as few added colors, scents, and chemicals as possible. Some individuals with psoriasis are sensitive to additives in topical products, especially during outbreaks. The natural minerals found in hard water may be helpful for skin integrity, as well, so avoid using a water softener if you have one.
Eat, Drink, and Feel Merry
Oral supplements and a psoriasis-friendly diet also provide some people considerable relief from the woes of psoriasis. In addition to some of the topical treatments mentioned above, oral option for psoriasis treatment do exist outside of the pharmacy.
Consider a few simple supplement options. Popular helpers include omega-3 fatty acids, turmeric, milk thistle, and vitamin D. Some of these may relieve inflammation, calm redness, and reduce the frequency of outbreaks, but the effects vary from person to person. Always check with a physician before adding an oral supplement to your care plan.
If you’ve got the gumption to go beyond a daily pill, think about a more holistic change. Revising your diet to be a customized home-based treatment for psoriasis may be your literal “meal ticket” to a healthier you. Be patient, however—it can take up to three months for dietary changes to really work through your system and create a significant change in your psoriasis symptoms.
Firstly, have your doctor check you for food allergies and sensitivities. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, as many as 1 in 4 people with psoriasis may also have a gluten sensitivity or allergy. If you have an undiagnosed problem with a specific food or food group (like dairy), some of your psoriasis symptoms may be a direct result of repeated exposure to the food. Immediately eliminate any allergens; observe changes in your symptoms over the next three months. If nothing seems to improve, try reintroducing them one by one to your diet to see whether they make your symptoms worse.
If you would rather focus on what you can eat instead of what you can’t, opt for a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains. Depending on your other health needs, consider targeting a heart healthy, anti-inflammatory, or low-fat diet. No matter your choice, consider finding a regular place in your diet for cranberries, fish, nuts, chocolate, soy, leafy greens, mangoes, squash, and other foods that are naturally rich in antioxidants and valuable nutrients.
Building Your Own Treatment Regimen
After you have identified the most effective topical treatments and diet for your individual symptoms, consider upping the ante (without spending money). Exercise therapy can be highly effective for some people with psoriasis. In addition to increasing your sun exposure and offering a wealth of benefits to your entire body, exercise can promote range of motion and relieve swelling and pain for those with psoriatic arthritis.
Regular exercise (aim for five times each week) can come in a variety of forms. Find the most enjoyable option and make it fit into your schedule—no excuses. Great options for beginners include walking, swimming, stationary cycling, yoga, tai chi, and badminton. Stretch before and after each workout as well as throughout the day, particularly if you have arthritis. If your psoriasis limits the activities that are comfortable for you, ask a health professional or trainer for advice on finding a safe activity for you.
Collectively, a home treatment plan that you maintain and alter as necessary may be your ticket to clearer skin and fewer attacks. Home-based therapies can be at least as important to your health and recovery as pharmaceuticals, and may even enable you to use fewer pharmaceuticals in the long run. Pay attention to your symptoms, track your progress, and make your at-home therapies the answer you’ve been searching for!
Katie Brind’Amour, MS, is a Certified Health Education Specialist and freelance health and wellness writer. She enjoys writing about the importance of diet and lifestyle in management of chronic health conditions and is slowly chipping away at her PhD in Health Services Management. Katie also blogs for Women’s Healthcare Topics and loves finding excuses for sneaking dark chocolate into her daily diet.