What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a type of non contagious, immune mediated, chronic skin disease in which itchy, red, scaly patches form on the elbows, forearms, knees legs or scalp. Psoriasis of the scalp is present in 40% of sufferers. Plaque Psoriasis is the most common type and is characterised by patches of inflamed skin which become covered in silvery white scales.
The underlying cause of psoriasis is uncontrolled cell growth. Normally keratinocytes (a type of skin cell) have a life cycle of 28 days. Fourteen of those days are required for the keratinocyte to fully develop and move from the lowest layers of the skin to the outermost layer. During the remaining fourteen days the keratinocyte dies and is sloughed off. During Psoriasis Keratinocytes have a significantly accelerated life cycle, moving to the surface in only four days. This causes a pile up of skin cells and the typical psoriasis lesions.
What causes Psoriasis?
Usually there is an inherited tendency to this disease but it may also be triggered by stress. It can occur on the site of a skin trauma (Koebners phenomenon) or after infection (Guttate psoriasis) and it may flare after use of certain drugs, most noticeably anti-malarial drugs.
For some psoriasis patients, the symptoms may not be confined to the skin. Around 25% of people affected will go on to develop Psoriatic arthritis. This causes swelling and stiffness of the joints of which the most common sites are the fingers and the toes.
Treatment for psoriasis varies with the severity of the condition. Milder cases may be treated with ultra violet light or coal tar applications. In more severe cases Calcipotriol, a derivative of vitamin D, may be prescribed for topical application. However, this must be used with care in patients with large affected areas as it can interfere with the body's calcium metabolism.
In persistent cases, and especially where the joints are affected, Methotrexate may be prescribed. Methotrexate is an immune suppressant and it has an effect on the skin's metabolic rate, but it has many side effects and blood must be monitored carefully throughout use to ensure there is no liver damage.
Essential Fatty Acids are essential during the treatment of psoriasis; a therapeutic dose of about 6g is needed to see an improvement. But they do work really well and may have a protective effect on the joints which can become inflamed in certain types of psoriasis. I usually recommend organic hemp seed oil (about 1 tablespoon per day), or flax seed capsules (at least 6 x 1000 gram capsules)
Herbs really can calm the skin down and give great relief. If a patient takes the herbs and the fatty acids and eats a good diet you should see a 25% improvement before you even start on homeopathic remedies.
Hilery always gives Milk Thistle in the mix for psoriasis as the health of the liver is very important in the clearing of psoriasis. Get a large bottle and put in herbal tinctures as follows: 25% Milk Thistle, 25% Oregon grape 25% Red Clover and 25% Burdock. Take one tablespoon per day. Consult a qualified herbalist before giving this to a child.
There are as many possibilities as there are remedies! Here are the ones that Hilery most often sees in her practice. To obtain best results however, we recommend seeing a professional homeopath who can treat the psoriasis in the context of the whole person.
Firstly many of the remedies we mentioned in eczema may be useful in psoriasis.
In a patient who needs this remedy the psoriasis patches are usually small and widespread with a lot of easy bleeding. The eruptions may burn and feel better for a warm application. The typical Arsenicum patient will be chilly and likes neatness and order.
What marks sulphur out may be the itching of the eruption which is unusual. There is aggravation from bathing which may make the skin crack. Scalp is often badly affected. The sulphur patient tends to be very hot blooded and may be untidy.
In psoriasis there will be moisture if graphites is needed; the patches may ooze a thick gluey exudate. The psoriasis may originate in old scar tissue and very often the nails will be very badly affected with pitting and flaking.
The skin will be very dry and prone to deep cracking. The skin will be markedly worse in the winter and will improve massively in the summer.
This is a good remedy for psoriasis. The eruptions are usually on the extensor surfaces of the body, i.e. knees and elbows and may have a lot of white scales on the patches. The patches look raised and have a clearly defined red edge with scaling in the surface. It will often appear at times of stress or hormonal change.
The typical Lycopodium patient may have Psoriasis on the knees and elbows, and maybe the scalp. The joints may be affected, especially the small joints of the fingers and toes. The typical Lycopodium patient may be lacking in self confidance. They may have a sweet tooth and be prone to bloating of the abdomen.