Red, itchy, and flaky — psoriasis is an uncomfortable chronic autoimmune skin disease that causes a lot of complications. Because of the buildup of excess skin cells, psoriasis can also be painful. It’s not just a simple rash that you can ignore. In fact, it can lead to more serious health issues in the future if not prevented or treated.
If you have psoriasis or if you suspect yourself to have the disease, consult an experienced dermatologist right away.
Psoriasis and the immune system
Psoriasis flares up as a reaction to an overactive immune system. If you suffer from psoriasis, your immune system acts as if you are attacked by harmful pathogens. When this happens, your body responds with inflammation, which can be noticeable on your skin as red patches or discoloration. In worse cases, the inflammation can also appear in places you cannot see like your joints or other internal organs.
To date, the causes of psoriasis are still unknown. However, researchers have identified several triggers to psoriasis flare-ups such as genetics, lifestyle, and the environment.
Does psoriasis weaken the immune system?
Psoriasis does not weaken your immune system. However, it is a reaction of an immune system that is not functioning as it should.
During a flare-up, your immune system creates excess proteins in charge of the immune system cells that help heal injuries and fight infections. Since there is little to no harmful pathogen to attack nor injuries to heal, these cells attack healthy tissue instead.
How does psoriasis weaken your immune system?
To manage psoriasis, doctors may prescribe immunosuppressants that affect your immune system. Because the drugs suppress the immune system, you also become more susceptible to other illnesses.
How can I boost my immune system to fight psoriasis
Although there is currently no cure for psoriasis, there are ways to boost your immune system to fight or manage psoriasis.
Get enough vitamin D
According to studies, people with psoriasis are often deficient in vitamin D — a vitamin that your skin needs to grow healthy cells at a healthy pace. A popular source of vitamin D is sunlight, however, you must be careful with sun exposure since too much exposure to the sun can lead to worse flare-ups or even skin cancer.
To supplement, you can consume vitamin D-rich foods such as dairy, fatty fish, and eggs. You can also talk to your doctor if you want to take vitamin D supplements.
Include antioxidants in your diet
Antioxidants are helpful in the treatment of psoriasis, however, psoriasis patients are often deficient in antioxidants as well.
You can add antioxidants to your diet by eating nuts, fruits, and vegetables that are rich in selenium, and vitamins C and E.
Although gluten does not cause psoriasis, it can trigger your immune system and worsen psoriasis symptoms. This is especially important if you are allergic to gluten. Gluten-rich foods include bread, pasta, pizza, cookies, cake, processed foods, etc.
Studies have shown a link between alcohol consumption and psoriasis. In fact, people with psoriasis often consume more alcohol than those without skin conditions. This is because alcohol can trigger or stimulate the production of lymphocyte and keratinocyte proliferation, as well as the production of proinflammatory cytokines.
Eat fatty fish
Fatty fish are also fish that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that have natural anti-inflammatory properties. To get more of these, you can include fish such as salmon, cod, sardines, tuna, and trout in your diet.
Turmeric has been an anti-inflammatory spice for centuries. Because of its ability to reduce inflammation in the body, it can be a very effective treatment or relief for psoriasis symptoms. You can drink it as tea, or you can incorporate spice into your meals.
Maintaining good hand hygiene
Keep your hands clean when you have psoriasis, but be careful not to wash your hands excessively so you do not irritate your skin. Refrain from using harsh chemicals as well such as hand sanitizers or drying hand soap because they can trigger or worsen a flare-up.
Regular exercise helps your immune system function properly. It improves your blood circulation and even your stress levels, mood, and even your sleep.
If you want to boost your immune system naturally, incorporate physical activities every day, even if it means a quick 30-minute exercise.
Talk to Your Doctor About Biologics
Many doctors prescribe their psoriasis patients with biologics because they suppress an overactive immune system. However, you must take note that because biologics suppress the functions of your immune system to prevent psoriasis flare-ups, this results in a weakened defense for your body.
It is best to talk to your doctor first so you can discuss this option for your psoriasis treatment.
Complications of psoriasis
Psoriasis is a complex condition that is lifelong, therefore needing proper management.
If left untreated, psoriasis can lead to other health complications such as the following:
30% of psoriasis patients develop psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis, as the name suggests, results as a complication of psoriasis and can cause swollen, stiff, and painful joints. Unfortunately, this can progress over time if left untreated.
Psoriasis is also linked to heart problems. Constant or long-term inflammation inside the body can affect your heart and blood vessels, increasing your chances of getting cardiovascular diseases such as stroke or hypertension.
Although presenting symptoms on the skin, psoriasis can affect one’s quality of life. With the stress and anxiety over the disease, psoriasis can actually also lead to psychosocial disorders.
Eye problems due to psoriasis are not uncommon. If the inflammation goes up around the eyes, it can be challenging to treat. You may experience dry, crusty eyes and even redness and blurred vision.
People with psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease because of the chronic inflammation inside the body that may affect the neuronal tissue.
Chronic psoriasis can also develop into metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that affect one’s metabolism and cardiovascular health. Managed poorly, this can result in other serious conditions such as obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and fatty liver disease.
Psoriasis patients are also likely to develop kidney disease. In fact, with severe psoriasis, one is twice more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than those who have no psoriasis.
Best anti-inflammatory supplements for psoriasis
While researchers are still working to find a cure for psoriasis, there are anti-inflammatory supplements one can take to help manage or relieve psoriasis symptoms.
You can get vitamin D from sunlight or food such as dairy products, fatty fish, and eggs. You can also talk to your doctor about vitamin D supplements.
There are many fish oil supplements in the market, but you can also get it naturally from fish such as salmon, cod, sardines, tuna, and trout.
There are many food products and supplements in stores that are marketed as antioxidants. However, if you want to get antioxidants naturally, you can get them by eating nuts, fruits, and vegetables that are rich in selenium, and vitamins C and E.
Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory compound that can be found in turmeric. You can drink turmeric tea or you can use turmeric spice in your food.
Probiotics are anti-inflammatory and help regulate your immune cells as well as the good bacteria in your body that boost your immunity. You can take probiotic supplements or get it naturally through food like yogurt and sourdough bread.
Manage your psoriasis right away
Psoriasis is not only uncomfortable but also a gateway to other health complications if left untreated. This is why it is important to seek a psoriasis specialist or skin doctor right away to help treat and manage your psoriasis.
At Skin Cancer Specialists, we have specialized treatments for psoriasis, whether the disease is still at an early stage or already severe. Our skilled psoriasis specialists will examine your skin to get you on the right treatment plan.