Practical Ways to Treat Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis

by | Jan 11, 2024 | Blog, Rheumatology

What is Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that often appears as red, scaly patches on the skin. It happens when the body’s immune system gets a bit confused and starts attacking healthy skin cells, leading to the rapid buildup of skin cells on the surface. This results in those telltale itchy and sometimes painful patches that can appear anywhere on the body.

Psoriatic arthritis, on the other hand, is a related condition that affects not only the skin but also the joints. It’s like a two-in-one package of trouble. In addition to the skin symptoms of psoriasis, people with psoriatic arthritis experience joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. It’s a bit like having arthritis and psoriasis show up at the same party, making it a complex and challenging condition to manage.

Importance of Practical Treatment Approaches

Practical treatment approaches are vital because they can significantly improve the daily lives of those affected by psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. These conditions can be physically uncomfortable, emotionally taxing, and socially challenging. Practical treatments offer a ray of hope by providing real, tangible ways to manage symptoms and alleviate suffering.

Moreover, these approaches empower individuals to regain a sense of control over their health. They offer tools and strategies that can be integrated into daily routines, allowing individuals to actively participate in their own well-being. This sense of empowerment is invaluable, as it fosters a positive outlook and a feeling of self-efficacy in managing these conditions.

By focusing on practical treatment approaches, we not only address the physical symptoms but also the emotional and psychological aspects of living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. This holistic approach acknowledges the importance of not just surviving but thriving, making each day better and more comfortable for those affected.

What are the Treatments for Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis?

The treatment options for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis aim to alleviate symptoms, reduce inflammation, and improve the overall quality of life for affected individuals. These treatments are typically tailored to the severity of the conditions and may include:

  • Topical Treatments for Psoriasis:
    • Corticosteroid creams: These can reduce inflammation and itching.
    • Topical calcineurin inhibitors: Useful for sensitive areas like the face and genitals.
    • Coal tar preparations: Can help slow skin cell growth.
    • Topical retinoids: Derived from vitamin A, these medications promote normal skin cell development.
  • Phototherapy (Light Therapy):
    • UVB phototherapy: Exposure to UVB light slows skin cell growth and reduces inflammation.
    • PUVA therapy: This involves taking psoralen, a light-sensitizing medication, before UVA light exposure.
  • Systemic Medications for Psoriasis:
    • Oral retinoids: These can be prescribed for severe psoriasis unresponsive to other treatments.
    • Methotrexate: An immunosuppressant that can control psoriasis symptoms.
    • Cyclosporine: Suppresses the immune system to manage severe psoriasis.
    • Biologics: These newer medications, such as TNF-alpha inhibitors, IL-12/23 inhibitors, and IL-17 inhibitors, target specific immune system molecules to control psoriasis.
  • Treatments for Psoriatic Arthritis:
    • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Over-the-counter or prescription NSAIDs can help reduce pain and inflammation in joints.
    • Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs): Medications like methotrexate, sulfasalazine, and leflunomide can slow the progression of psoriatic arthritis.
    • Biologics: Many biologic drugs approved for psoriasis treatment are also effective for psoriatic arthritis, as they target inflammation.
    • Corticosteroids: Injections or oral steroids can provide short-term relief during flare-ups.
  • Lifestyle and Self-Care Strategies:
    • Maintaining a Healthy Diet: Eating a balanced diet may help reduce inflammation.
    • Regular Exercise: Physical activity can improve joint function and overall well-being.
    • Stress Management: Stress reduction techniques can help prevent psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis flare-ups.
    • Avoiding Triggers: Identifying and avoiding triggers that worsen symptoms is crucial.

Treatment plans are highly individualized and may involve a combination of these approaches. Patients should work closely with healthcare providers to determine the most suitable treatments for their specific needs and monitor their condition regularly. This ensures that psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are effectively managed to minimize symptoms and maintain a good quality of life.

What are the Supplements that can help?

Several dietary supplements have been studied for their potential benefits in managing psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. While supplements can be helpful, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before adding them to your regimen. Here are some supplements that have shown promise:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 supplements, often derived from fish oil, may help reduce inflammation associated with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. They can be a valuable addition to the diet.
  • Vitamin D: Some studies suggest that vitamin D supplementation may improve psoriasis symptoms. Vitamin D plays a role in skin health, and individuals with psoriasis are sometimes found to have lower levels.
  • Turmeric (Curcumin): Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties. Some research indicates that curcumin supplements may reduce psoriasis symptoms.
  • Probiotics: Probiotic supplements may help promote a healthy gut microbiome, which can have indirect effects on immune function and inflammation. This might benefit individuals with autoimmune conditions like psoriatic arthritis.
  • Aloe Vera: Aloe vera supplements may be used in conjunction with topical aloe vera gel to soothe skin affected by psoriasis.
  • Milk Thistle: Some individuals use milk thistle supplements to support liver health, as the liver plays a role in detoxification, and certain medications used for psoriatic arthritis can impact liver function.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin: These supplements are often used to support joint health and may be considered for individuals with psoriatic arthritis.
  • Protein and Collagen: Adequate protein intake is essential for skin and tissue repair. Collagen supplements may help maintain skin health.

It’s important to reiterate that supplements should complement a balanced diet and medical treatment plan, not replace them. Dosages and potential interactions with medications must be discussed with a healthcare provider. Additionally, the effectiveness of supplements can vary among individuals, so what works for one person may not work the same way for another. 

Physical Therapy and Exercise

Exercise plays a crucial role in managing arthritis, but the type and intensity of exercise should be tailored to the specific type of arthritis an individual has. Here are tailored exercise plans for psoriatic arthritis:

  • Psoriatic Arthritis:
    • Low-Impact Aerobics: Swimming, water aerobics, and cycling are joint-friendly options.
    • Strength Training: Strengthen the muscles around affected joints to provide support and reduce strain.
    • Yoga or Tai Chi: These practices enhance flexibility, balance, and relaxation.
    • Range-of-Motion Exercises: Incorporate daily stretches to combat stiffness.
    • Consultation with a Physical Therapist: Consider working with a physical therapist to develop a personalized exercise plan.

It’s essential for individuals with arthritis to consult with their healthcare provider or a physical therapist before starting any exercise program. They can provide guidance on appropriate exercises and techniques, taking into account the type and severity of arthritis, individual fitness levels, and any specific limitations or concerns. Exercise plans should be gradual, progressive, and adjusted as needed to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

Acupuncture and acupressure are alternative therapies that some individuals with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis consider to complement their conventional medical treatments. While they are not a cure, some people find relief from certain symptoms through these practices. Here’s an overview:

Acupuncture:

  • Procedure: Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body. These points correspond to energy pathways, or meridians, in traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Potential Benefits: Some people with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis report reduced pain, improved sleep, and reduced stress levels after acupuncture sessions.
  • Mechanism: Acupuncture is thought to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers, and may help regulate the immune system.

Acupressure:

  • Procedure: Acupressure is similar to acupuncture but involves applying pressure to specific acupuncture points with the fingers, thumbs, or massage tools, rather than using needles.
  • Potential Benefits: Acupressure may provide relaxation, reduce muscle tension, and alleviate stress, which can indirectly help manage psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis symptoms.
  • Mechanism: Like acupuncture, acupressure stimulates the body’s self-healing mechanisms and promotes relaxation.

These practices may provide relief from some symptoms and contribute to an overall sense of well-being, but they should be part of a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Managing psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis is a multi-faceted journey that requires diligence, patience, and collaboration with healthcare providers. By following a tailored treatment plan, practicing self-care, and making lifestyle adjustments, individuals living with these conditions can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups, ultimately leading to a better quality of life. Remember that the path to managing psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis is unique for each person, but with the right support and a proactive approach, it is possible to achieve greater control and comfort in daily life.

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