Take The Sting Out of Psoriasis

A colleague of team SPA+CLINIC suffers from psoriasis (sor-RY-uh-sis), a chronic skin problem that causes skin cells to grow too quickly, resulting in thick red, white or silvery patches of skin.

He says it started when he simultaneously stopped smoking and started working at a hospital about 15 years ago.

Whether the two are connected, and what aspects of each may have contributed to the condition erupting, would probably take a team of Nobel Prize-worthy researchers across the spectrum to ascertain.

Normally, skin cells grow gradually and flake off about every four weeks. New skin cells grow to replace the outer layers of the skin as they shed.

But with psoriasis, new skin cells move rapidly to the surface of the skin in days rather than weeks. They build up and form thick patches called plaques, ranging in size from small to large. They most often appear on the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet, or lower back.

Experts believe that psoriasis occurs when the immune system overreacts, but in some cases it runs in families. Sufferers often notice times when their skin gets worse: eg. a cold and dry climate, infection, stress, dry skin, and taking certain medications.

What we can report is that our colleague’s skin on affected areas, at its worst, resembles that of a burns victim – poker hot red inflammation, and the inevitable flaking of dead cells.

He has also reported that, after a recent wonderful two-week holiday with his son, the psoriasis all but disappeared.

He says that, at its most extreme, his skin is so sensitive that even the blandest and most pure of products will make it sting unbearably.

The physical distress is one thing. The social distress he has remarked on is another dimension, with random comments being made like “OMG, what happened to you?!” at equally random intervals, such as standing in line at the supermarket checkout.

The self-consciousness and impact on self-esteem that this all contributes to is devastating.

Today is World Psoriasis Day. It’s a chance, as industry professionals, to focus on what we can do for people suffering from this distressing condition.

Melbourne’s Dr Irene Prantalos, a pioneer in the field of psoriasis treatment, speaks from experience when she says she knows what it is like to want to live psoriasis-free after being diagnosed at 11, battling it through adolescence into early adulthood.

Irene visited a slew of dermatologists and dabbled in many alternative therapies, some of which provided some relief yet neither approach ever resulted in a permanent cure.

“The years passed with little relief,” she says. “I tried endlessly to find a cure, with a variety of treatments claiming to heal my psoriasis.

“By then that simple rash had spread to cover 90 percent of my body. The worst of it came when I was in Year 11 and 12 with the pressures of VCE and the personal desire to do well.

“Whatever normal skin I had left now vanished. My body was really struggling; my legs had fluid retention and had swelled to the size of two litre Coke bottles. I could barely walk, let alone move without pain.

“My beautiful mother sold her hairdressing salon and started caring for me 100 percent of the time.”

At 19, Irene turned to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for answers and was amazed by what ensued.

“Within just two months, my skin had cleared up – a pivotal moment marking the beginning of a lifelong passion for this ancient system of healing.

“I was amazed. I felt normal. Who would have thought some stinky herbs would help me?

“I knew then this is what I had to do as a vocation. I had to learn TCM. I asked my practitioner where I could do this and she told me of a [then] new course starting at RMIT University [where Irene subsequently studied Human Biology and Chinese Medicine for seven years]”.

She has since launched a private practice, Salubre Health Solutions, dedicated to treating the condition she once suffered from so badly.

As well, Irene has published Feel Great in Your Skin … 7 Simple Ways to Heal Psoriasis and Healing Psoriasis with Mediterranean Cooking. Today, she is almost completely free of psoriasis.

Today the the Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD) is highlighting the real impact of this complex condition, its associated illnesses and is encouraging patients to speak to their doctor, dermatologist or healthcare professional about treatment options.

Currently, it is estimated that psoriasis affects in excess of 600,000. Australians at some stage throughout the course of their lives.

However, the condition is still commonly misunderstood as a simple skin condition.

Associate Professor, Chris Baker, President of the ACD, says: “Psoriasis is often dismissed as a minor skin complaint however it is a little known fact that it is a complex condition linked to increased likelihoods of developing arthritis, obesity, depression and even cardio-vascular conditions.

“For instance, psoriasis sufferers’ chances of having a heart attack or stroke is significantly increased. As a result, there is a real need to raise awareness of the full implications of psoriasis on a person’s wider health.

“World Psoriasis Day is an annual awareness day, dedicated to raising awareness of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

“More recently, media exposure of psoriasis has been raised due to reports that high-profile celebrities allegedly suffer from the condition.

“World Psoriasis Day gives the medical community an opportunity to band together to help sufferers of the condition,” says Assoiatec Professor Baker.

“There is very good evidence that psoriasis is an auto-immune, inflammatory condition that, in the first instance, causes skin cells to grow at an unsustainable rate that does not allow them to mature properly.

“This results in thick, red and scaly patches of skin, which can be itchy and painful. The exact causes of psoriasis are not yet fully known, however are understood to be a combination of hereditary, immune and environmental factors.

“The condition is not contagious and is influenced by a patient’s DNA, with 10 percent of the population inheriting at least one gene that predisposes them to developing the condition.

“Men and women are affected equally and the most common age for diagnosis is between 15-35.

“Psoriasis can affect any part of the body, but is most regularly found on the torso, knees and elbows. In total there are a number of types of psoriasis with the most common being Chronic Plaque Psoriasis.

Alongside inflammation of nearly any joint, sufferers may also exhibit stiffness in the spine, knees, ankles and joints in the feet, which become painful, swollen, hot, and red.

In rarer cases affects can be felt in the smaller joints of the fingers and toes, as well as in the tendons and around the cartilage of joints.

While psoriasis is systemic (from within, manifesting on outer skin), there are many ways aesthetics professionals such as you can help sufferers deal with this plight.

Tailored skincare protocols (professional treatments with pursuant home care) and sessions with Light Emitting Diode (LED) devices can be of enormous benefit while affected clients simultaneously seek health, nutritional and vitamin/supplement counsel from medical and wellness professionals.


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