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Psoriasis

See the signs and seek relief from psoriasis, a common condition affecting the skin and often the nails. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
Psoriasis: Main Image

About This Condition

Psoriasis is a common, poorly understood condition that affects primarily the skin but may also affect nails. A related condition, psoriatic arthritis, affects joints.

The fact that some people with psoriasis improve while taking prescription drugs that interfere with the immune system suggests that the disease might result from a derangement of the immune system. A dermatologist should be consulted to confirm the diagnosis of psoriasis.

Symptoms

The hallmark symptom of psoriasis is well-defined, red patches of skin covered by a silvery, flaky surface that has pinpoint spots of bleeding underneath if scraped. The patches typically appear during periodic flare-ups and are in the same area on both sides of the body. In some people with psoriasis, the fingernails and toenails may have white-colored pits, lengthwise ridges down the nail, or yellowish spots, or may be thickened or may separate at the cut end.

Holistic Options

A preliminary trial treated 61 psoriasis patients with acupuncture that did not respond to conventional medical therapies. After an average of nine acupuncture treatments, 30 (49%) of the patients demonstrated almost complete clearance of the lesions, and 14 (23%) of the patients experienced a resolution for two-thirds of lesions.1 A controlled trial of 56 patients with psoriasis found, however, that acupuncture and “fake” acupuncture resulted in similar, modest effects.2 More controlled trials are necessary to determine the usefulness of acupuncture in the treatment of psoriasis.

Stress reduction has been shown to accelerate healing of psoriatic plaques in a blinded trial.3 Thirty-seven people with psoriasis about to undergo light therapy were randomly assigned to receive either topical ultraviolet light treatment alone or in combination with a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction technique guided by audiotape. Those who received the stress-reduction intervention showed resolution of their psoriasis significantly faster than those who did not.

Hypnosis and suggestion have been shown in some cases to have a positive effect on psoriasis, further supporting the role of stress in the disorder.4 In one case report, 75% resolution of psoriasis resulted from using a hypnotic sensory-imagery technique.5 Hypnosis may be especially useful for psoriasis that appears to be activated by stress.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.

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