Psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune, inflammatory skin condition that affects millions of adults and teenagers worldwide. Of the five types of psoriasis (plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic) plaque is the most common affecting about 80% of sufferers.
Most commonly found on the scalp, knees, back and elbows psoriasis is an overproduction of skin cells and appears as raised, inflamed, red lesions with a covering of silvery scales.
Although a skin condition psoriasis can affect other areas of our health as well. Psoriasis is commonly accompanied by a joint condition similar to rheumatoid arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis.
Emotional problems are also a common factor associated with the condition as the highly visible symptoms lead to self consciousness and embarrassment. Social isolation and depression may follow as the consistent symptoms take their toll.
More than skin deep
Psoriasis is more than skin deep. It is well documented that people suffering from psoriasis are at a greater risk of developing heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and cancer.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects approximately 50% of all patients with psoriasis and having psoriasis can double the risk of having a heart attack. Additionally up to 4.3% of psoriasis sufferers will also have celiac disease and about .05% will have Crohn’s disease.
The reason for these associated conditions occurring in conjunction with psoriasis may be due to some common genetic traits, as well as common inflammatory pathways. Their presence may offer vital information in developing effective treatments for psoriasis.
More recent studies linking miscarriage and psoriasis
A recent study at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital carried out by Dr. Zinaida Lima shows that pregnant women with psoriasis have a greater risk of pregnancy complications including preterm birth, spontaneous abortion, pre-eclampsia, placenta previa and ectopic pregnancy.
Dr Trevor Erikson (Doctor of Chinese Medicine at Acubalance Wellness Centre) is not surprised by these findings stating :-
“I see the connection between skin, reproductive health and pregnancy all the time in my practice. Skin conditions like psoriasis — a systemic inflammatory auto immune disease — affect the whole body, including reproductive hormones,” Dr Erikson is one of the only Chinese medicine practitioners in Canada who focuses exclusively on skin conditions, fertility and reproductive health.
“Many of my patients have noted that their menstrual cycle fluctuates according to the activity level of their psoriasis — indicating the connection between inflammation and reproductive health.” he continued.
What can you do about it?
Treating your body as a whole rather than individual parts or conditions is the ultimate in preventing the risk of any condition. The aim is to improve the physical and emotional well-being of people who have psoriasis in an attempt to reduce the risk of developing secondary conditions.
Paul Yamauchi, MD, who is a dermatologist in private practice at the Dermatology Institute and Skin Care Center of Santa Monica notes that along with proper treatment, people with psoriasis need to “stay active, eat well and keep a positive emotional outlook”.