If you have psoriasis, you’re familiar with the itchy, red patches of skin. The patches can show up anywhere. Typically, they’re found on elbows, ankles, knees, and scalps. They might be mistaken for dry skin, but they’re actually a symptom of an autoimmune disease.
Nobody is exactly sure what causes psoriasis. The leading thought is that some people are born with a genetic predisposition which can be triggered by external factors. Flare-ups usually happen after an infection, when someone’s immune system is compromised.
While psoriasis is incurable, it can be managed with several treatments. Corticosteroid topical medications, cortisone creams, coal-tar lotions, anti-dandruff shampoos, vitamin D all can help prevent or minimize outbreaks. There are several types of psoriasis. To learn more, click here.
Beyond making life an itchier, and more uncomfortable experience, psoriasis can cause other profound negative effects. People diagnosed with the condition often face anxiety and depression. Almost three quarters of patients feel stigmatized, because of how the disease affects their skin. This can lead to low self esteem, and damage quality of life. Beyond that, it also puts patients at higher risk for other autoimmune conditions, including various forms of arthritis and irritable bowel disease. People with psoriasis are also more likely to develop heart disease, elevated blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
While creams and medicines are one strategy, research shows that there is also correlation between psoriasis and diet. I realize, as a society, we’ve reached a point where most people no longer want to hear anyone’s opinion about whether or not they should personally eat gluten. With that said, research shows that psoriasis patients in particular are about twice as likely to also be diagnosed with Celiac disease. Or is it the other way around? Other studies show that people with Celiac disease are also far more likely to develop psoriasis.
A different study gave some more potentially unwelcome input about how manage psoriasis. Researchers demonstrated that you can also manage psoriasis through diet by losing weight.
The researcher recruited heavier participants, who they divided into two groups. One group followed a low calorie weight loss regimen for eight weeks, and the other group ate typical amounts of food to serve as a control. The researchers measured their psoriasis by a Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI). The control group showed on average a -.3 change on the PASI scale, while the weight loss group showed a an average of a -2.3 change. Researchers followed up by extending the study to a 48 week trial, at which point the participants who continued to lose weight reached a -2.9 change. They found that sustained weight loss led to long-term psoriasis improvement.
There are some theories about what’s causing all this. Every single one of the conditions that psoriasis is related to, is, in some way, caused by inflammation. Inflammation, generally speaking, is a natural and healthy process. It helps the body fight off infections and other unwanted visitors. However, when inflammation lasts too long, problems begin.
Many studies show that both psoriasis and Celiac patients experience leaky gut caused by inflammation. Being overweight can also cause chronic inflammation. The inflammation also plays a role in heart disease, which can be worsened both by psoriasis and by the depression its often accompanied by.
All of this information can feel overwhelming and frightening. It’s tough to not only deal with psoriasis, but also to be at risk for a whole slew of other diseases. However, the good news is that understanding the relationship between all of these diseases give psoriasis patients tools to fight them.