When it comes to treating psoriasis, your physician has to consider these four factors before making a final recommendation:1
• Type of psoriasis
• Severity of the disease
• Size of psoriasis patches
• Patient reaction to certain treatments
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), not all treatments would work for everyone. As a result, should the treatment be ineffective for a patient, have bad reactions on the patient or just stop working altogether, the physician may switch to another remedy.2
Some of the Most Common Types of Treatments for Psoriasis May Be Risky
There are four treatment protocols that are commonly used for psoriasis. However, even though they are constantly recommended by a high number of physicians, they have their own health risks as well:3
• Topical medications: these creams and ointments that can be obtained over-the-counter or by prescription4 are directly applied onto your skin, and have been touted to:
◦ Assist in decreasing inflammation and skin cell turnover
◦ Subdue the immune system
◦ Help in skin peeling and pore unclogging
◦ Soothe the skin
However, a common class of topical psoriasis treatments called corticosteroids actually has more health risks than benefits. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), redness, skin changes (such as skin thinning), easier bruising, stretch marks and dilated surface blood vessels are common side effects of these topical remedies.5
Even worse, these corticosteroids may be absorbed in your skin. Internal organs can also be affected when the treatments are applied to large areas of skin, used for long periods of time or used with excessive occlusions.6
• Light therapy or phototherapy:7 two types of light are utilized for phototherapy: natural light from the sun, and artificial ultraviolet light. As a result, there are two types of light therapy for psoriasis: ultraviolet B (UVB) phototherapy and psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) phototherapy.
UVB phototherapy is quite effective when it comes to alleviating psoriasis, since UVB is able to penetrate your skin and slow down the growth of affected skin cells.8 Furthermore, sensible exposure to UVB light can photosynthesize important vitamin D onto your skin. A known caveat, however, is that UVB light can alter your DNA's structures.
If you find that UVB phototherapy istoo costly, try practicing sensible sun exposure and maintaining optimal vitamin D levels of 50 to 70 ng/ml instead. Not only will you be exposed to UVB light, you can also optimize your vitamin D levels (and your health) in the process.
While PUVA phototherapy may be recommended by many physicians, it's best to skip it. This type of treatment utilizes UVA rays that could produce reactive oxygen species in your tissue and lead to further skin damage. PUVA phototherapy also involves topical or oral administration of a drug called psoralen that's linked to side effects, such as nausea, itching and redness of the skin.9
• Systemic treatment: this is usually reserved for patients with severe psoriasis. Systemic medications are prescriptions that are taken orally in liquid or pill form, or given intravenously. 10
Common medications typically used for systemic treatment include methotrexate, retinoids, cyclosporine or biologic response modifiers. Unfortunately, each type of drug has its own set of side effects that you should be concerned with:11,12,13,14
Biologic Response Modifiers
||Bone and joint pain
||High cholesterol and triglyceride levels
||Excessive hair growth
||Upper respiratory infections
|Difficulty in sleeping
||Eye problems such as blurred vision, cataracts, conjunctivitis and a sudden deterioration in night vision
||Tingling and burning sensations in your arms and legs
||Increased triglyceride levels
||Increased gum tissue growth with swelling
||Fatigue or tiredness
||Injection site reactions
|Easy bruising and bleeding
||Muscle, bone or joint pain
||Skin and mucus membrane problems
||Neurologic symptoms such as headaches and tremors
||Benign intracranial hypertension (although this is rare)
|Sensitivity to sunlight
• Combination Therapy: as the name implies, this method involves a combination of any of the treatments mentioned earlier: topical, light and systemic treatments, although in much lower doses.
Try These Natural Skin-Improving Remedies Instead
Due to the potential side effects of conventional psoriasis medications, you're better off using natural methods, such as spices and essential oils, in order to treat psoriasis. Here are five potent remedies that you can use to your advantage:15
• Aloe Vera: whether you use aloe vera gel or essential oil, you can be guaranteed that the anti-inflammatory properties of the plant can help alleviate inflammation and even arthritic pain (if you have psoriatic arthritis).16 Aloe vera can also be effective in enhancing skin health, lessening skin inflammation, blistering and itching and treating rashes.17,18
• Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV): ACV can help relieve scalp itchiness. Purchase organic apple cider vinegar at a store near you and apply it onto the scalp for several times a week. You can also dilute this in water at a 1:1 ratio to help prevent a burning sensation, and/or rinse the skin once the solution has dried.
If your skin has cracked or is bleeding, don't use apple cider vinegar. Irritation and a burning sensation on your skin can happen if you apply ACV onto open wounds.
• Capsaicin: an ingredient that's responsible for the fiery flavor of chili peppers, capsaicin is typically added to creams and ointments. Capsaicin is known to lessen the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component found in nerve cells that can transmit pain signals to your brain, and desensitizes sensory receptors on your skin.19
However, as the NPF has pointed out, more research is needed to fully determine capsaicin's long-term benefits and safety.
• Tea Tree Oil: this essential oil has shown promise as both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, and as a traditional remedy that prevents head lice and treats fungal infections.20 However, there are still no definite studies that effectively demonstrate the link between tea tree oil and psoriasis treatment.
If you're interested in using tea tree oil, make sure to consult a physician first and do a skin patch test to check for potential allergic reactions. Make sure to dilute it in a safe carrier oil to lessen the risk of having a burning sensation on your skin, eyes and mucous membranes.21
• Turmeric: since psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, you can rely on this yellow spice, which is typically used in Indian cuisine, to help with pain relief. Curcumin, a component in the spice, is responsible for providing immense anti-inflammatory relief by combatting the inflammation at the molecular level.22 Even better, the spice is said to be more effective than potentially risky prescription medications.