Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease affecting nearly 80 million people around the world. Patches of skin become compromised by redness, itchiness, and a scaly-like appearance. Those dealing with more severe cases are also apt to developing psoriatic arthritis. While there is no known cure for psoriasis, there are precautions made available to curb the discomfort and symptomatic appearance of the affliction.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Symptoms of both psoriasis and the accompanying arthritis are rather clear when it comes to appearance.
It includes the following:
- Redness of Skin (Forearms, Shins, Navel, Scalp, Back)
- White Scaly Patches of Skin (Elbows, Knees, Scalp, Back)
- Thickening of Toenails and Fingernails
- Discoloration of Toenails and Fingernails
- Swelling of Fingers and Toes
- Severe Itching
Causes of Psoriasis/Psoriasis Arthritis
There is not a concrete reason for why people develop psoriasis. However, multiple theories exist as possible causes of the disease.
- Psoriasis is said to be a genetic disease. The symptoms are exacerbated by conditions such as stress, adverse weather conditions (primarily winter months), obesity, the consumption of both alcohol and cigarettes, and general skin dryness. Psoriatic arthritis is said to impact up to 30-percent of those dealing with psoriasis itself.
- Psoriasis can occur at any age — although it most frequently becomes present during adulthood.
- There is no correlation as it pertains to gender. Both men and women are equally impacted by psoriasis.
- Stiffness in Joints
- Inflamed Joints
- Swelling in Fingers and Toes
Psoriatic Arthritis and some of its treatments can lead to:
- Long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs may lead to gastrointestinal bleeding
- An increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Potential damage to the kidneys and liver
- Higher risk of infections
- Headaches, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue
While psoriasis can be an annoyance on a number of levels, there are measures available to combat the potential discomfort emanating from the disease. Here are multiple choices one could attempt in order to prevent a flare-up:
Conventional Forms of Exercise
Though not an overly strenuous activity, walking is an effective measure in a number of ways. The activity builds collective strength, and maintains joint flexibility. Those suffering from psoriatic arthritis are more prone to considerable joint stiffness. This exercise works best when in short intervals (10-15 minute spurts). Gradually, one will then want to lengthen the period of walking time.
Cycling is also a quality option. As opposed to running, it lessens the impact on one’s joints — whilst also building up endurance. An individual may cycle out on the roads, or inside within a gym environment.
The act of swimming in a pool also has many benefits for those struggling with joint stiffness. Swimming helps to strengthen the afflicted joints, builds body strength (particularly in the limbs), and also relaxes sore muscles.
One must heed caution when it comes to general soreness. The building up of endurance and general strength will come gradually. As such, easing into a physical activity — particularly if its foreign — is highly advised.
Unconventional Forms of Exercise
Both Yoga and Tai Chi are proven methods aimed at lowering one’s respective stress level. From a physical standpoint, each provides much-needed benefits for those dealing with arthritis.
Tai Chi is rooted in fluid, circular movements. One’s mobility will (in theory) be enhanced with this activity. It is also attempted in a serene environment.
Yoga — akin to Tai Chi — is presented within quiet parameters. Stress is often the culprit of a psoriasis flare-up. As such, the calming nature helps to prevent against such an occurrence. Yoga also aims at utilizing controlled movements, stretches, and deep-breathing exercises. This works well when combating the rigors of inflexible muscles, sore joints, and body pain.
Studies have suggested implementing a diet incorporating fish oil — as well as salmon and herring. The consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and olive oil are said to also help.
One should avoid high amounts of daily, red meat, and alcohol.
Medical Treatments for Psoriasis/Psoriatic Arthritis:
If your own preventative measures are not enough, seek treatment with a proper professional as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
- A variety of topical agents are said to be effective methods of treatment. Vitamin D analogues are suggested — as are products such as petroleum jelly, mineral oil, and calcipotriol. These products are a fight force against psoriatic plaque.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can be used to prevent the progression of psoriatic arthritis. It also helps to relieve more severe symptoms, as well as slowing both joint and tissue damage. Potential side affects include the damaging of the liver, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and fever.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are over-the-counter products such as ibruprofen and aspirin. Other forms come in the way of a prescription. These drugs are used to combat morning stiffness, general pain, the lack of mobility, and joint soreness. While the purchasing and feasibility of these drugs is rather easy, they aren’t usually as potent in combating symptoms when compared to other options.
- Biologic drugs are administered via an injection or from an IV. Due to medical advances, biologics is more readily available than ever before. These are used to target individualized parts of one’s immune system. The goal is to block the cells and protein which replicate — and thus produce both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.