Psoriasis: what is it and what can you do about it?

Psoriasis: what is it and what can you do about it?

Are you experiencing red, itchy skin with flaky patches? On your scalp and maybe even on other parts of your body? You may be dealing with psoriasis. This is a chronic skin condition that affects approximately 300,000 people in the Netherlands and more than 100 million worldwide.

Psoriasis is not contagious because it is not caused by bacteria or a virus. However, hereditary factors play a significant role in its development. Research indicates that if both parents have this skin disease, the child has a 50% chance of developing psoriasis as well.

What is psoriasis?

The skin is constantly renewing itself. Old skin cells slowly die and shed. This shedding process is so gradual that you may not even notice it. Under the old skin cells, new skin cells slowly form and grow into a new layer of skin. Healthy skin typically takes about 30 days to shed the old skin cells and let the new ones grow.

In individuals with psoriasis, the shedding of old skin cells occurs too quickly. While old skin cells normally take about 30 days to shed, in people with psoriasis, this process happens in just 6 to 7 days. This disrupts the skin cell replacement process, preventing the old cells from having enough time to shed and causing them to accumulate on the skin. This buildup results in irritation and itching, as these skin flakes often become inflamed.

What are the types of psoriasis?

There are several different forms of psoriasis, each characterized by the specific areas on the body where psoriasis lesions appear.

Psoriasis Vulgaris
This is the most common form of psoriasis. It primarily affects the elbows, knees, and back. Typical of this form is the symmetrical appearance of the lesions.

Psoriasis Capitis
In this form, psoriasis primarily occurs on the hairy scalp, around the hairline, and behind the ears. Psoriasis on the scalp leads to intense itching, flaking, and irritation. Although scalp psoriasis may resemble eczema, there are differences: the plaques on the scalp are random and vary in size. Scalp psoriasis flakes often adhere to the scalp, whereas eczema flakes are usually loosely attached.

Psoriasis Inversa
People with psoriasis inversa experience lesions predominantly in body folds, such as the armpits, groin, inner elbow, and genital area.

What causes psoriasis?

The exact cause of psoriasis is not yet known. However, it is known to have a genetic component. If one parent has psoriasis, the risk of developing the skin disease increases by 10%. If both parents have it, the risk rises to 50%. Additionally, various factors can trigger or worsen symptoms:

  • Infections, such as strep throat, flu, or skin infections.
  • Skin injuries like cuts, scrapes, insect bites, or severe sunburn.
  • Weather conditions, especially cold and dry weather.
  • Stress.
  • Smoking (including secondhand smoke) or excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Certain medications, including lithium, high blood pressure medications, malaria drugs, and pain relievers like ibuprofen and diclofenac
  • Inflammation in other areas of your body.
  • Abrupt discontinuation of oral or systemic corticosteroids.

Is psoriasis curable?

Unfortunately, there is no therapy or treatment to completely cure psoriasis. Treatment for psoriasis focuses on symptom management. It’s beneficial to prevent skin damage and avoid taking excessively hot and long showers. Using a soap-free, oil-based body wash is recommended instead of soap. The more moisturized and supple your skin is, the less discomfort you’ll experience from psoriasis.

Because psoriasis is characterized by plaques and scales on the (scalp) skin, which are often highly visible, it can negatively impact your self-confidence. Fortunately, you can reduce scaling and itching by using the right products. There are skincare products available that can have a positive effect on the course of psoriasis capitis. If you’re dealing with psoriasis on your scalp, contact a certified Mediceuticals® salon near you for professional advice. You can use our salon finder to locate one.

What products can I use for irritation and scales?

An irritated and itchy scalp can be very uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Flakes on your head, shoulders, and clothing can also affect your mood or self-confidence negatively. To combat flakes, using a nourishing shampoo and scalp conditioner is a good option. At Mediceuticals®, we offer the Dandruff Kit for those with an irritated scalp. It includes our X-Folate shampoo, which loosens flakes and reduces scalp inflammation.

After shampooing, it’s important to balance the scalp’s acidity (pH) with the Therapeutic conditioner also found in the Dandruff Kit. It soothes the sensitive scalp and maintains the correct moisture balance of the skin.

Before using the shampoo, apply Therarx , which is also included in the Dandruff Kit, all over your (dry) scalp. Allow it to sit for 1 to 2 minutes, then moisten your hair and immediately apply the shampoo. Rinsing off the Therarx is not necessary.

These products can also be used on the body if you’re experiencing irritation or scales elsewhere. To hydrate and restore the skin, you can also use Bao-Med oil in combination with Dual Moist.

Learning to live with psoriasis

Psoriasis is unfortunately not curable. However, with the right skincare products, it is possible to alleviate the symptoms. Your doctor can also prescribe medications, often corticosteroid creams, to reduce or make the symptoms more bearable. Moreover, the severity of your psoriasis may vary over time, with alternating periods of remission and increased activity.

If you’re struggling with shame, insecurity, anxiety, or depression due to psoriasis, or if you’re experiencing sleep disturbances and unbearable itching, don’t hesitate to talk about it. You can discuss your feelings with family or friends, or seek help from your doctor or a psychologist. Since psoriasis is a lifelong condition, it’s important to learn how to manage it.

For personalized advice, you can also schedule an appointment at one of our certified Mediceuticals® salons.