I have battled psoriasis for the past 31 years. It reared its ugly head when I was only eight years old. Although the diagnosis was clear, the doctors that my mother and I visited really couldn’t tell us much about the disorder, but they were more than ready to give me a prescription medicine, a tarry looking ointment, to battle it. I tried the ointment, which was expensive, and then quit the stuff after a year, partially because it didn’t really work, but mostly because of the cost. I grew up with a gal who, likewise, was diagnosed with psoriasis in her childhood…she had used the tarry looking ointment, then later came down with skin cancer which was apparently caused by said ointment. Was it really worth it?
I am thankful that my mother took me off the medicine because I would much rather have psoriasis than skin cancer. Since quitting the ointment all those years ago, I have been forced to learn as much as I can about my condition and to treat it to the best of my ability; I have learned that being mean to my plaques is the best way to win the battle, and that what I eat makes a big difference. I have learned that lotion is my skin’s best friend, and that psoriasis plaques hates the sun. I feel like there are too many people out there who are battling this condition with little relief, who could be taking a completely different medication-free approach, as I have. Here are the top 7 things that have worked, and continue to work for me in my battle against psoriasis;
Tip #1: Bathe daily, and be mean to your plaques! Every morning, I jump in the shower and go about my routine, which includes a pumice stone. You know, like the thing you use to clean your toilet bowl? Yep! That’s the ticket! I use my handy little pumice stone to gently scrub each plaque. Don’t go nuts and over scrub, you don’t need to have blood pouring out of your plaques, don’t be a maniac! Just scrub until your plaques are pink and free of excess skin, then leave them alone. I do this every single day, and I believe that this is the biggest key to killing off plaques. My plaques used to be about the 2 inches in diameter on my knees, now I have one or two patches on each knee that are smaller than a pencil eraser. As soon as a new baby plaque shows up, I harass it with my pumice stone, and it typically shrivels away within a week or two.
Tip #2: Keep it lubricated! I am a cheapskate, I don’t go out and buy high-end lotions, I choose scent free, low chemical lotions, brand names like Suave, Lubriderm, Cetaphil, etc. will do just fine. As soon as I towel off from my shower, I coat my legs and arms with lotion. Another favorite lubricant of mine is almond oil; I often add a few drops to my lotion in the summertime to help my skin stay hydrated. Also, I have heard that changing lotion every 3-4 months is a good idea, just because your skin apparently gets used to the lotion? Sure, why not. Changing lotion every so often certainly won’t hurt anything, or use the same one your whole life; it’s totally up to you on that one, just lube up every day.
Tip #3: Be a sun worshipper. I love the sun. I was born in the summer; the beach is where my heart is. Growing up, I remember spending all day at the beach with friends, swimming for hours on end, listening to loud 80’s rock music, it was awesome. Now days, I take my children to the beach at least 3-4 times a week throughout the summer. I bring my umbrella, and my sun hat and I spend my time rotating between the water, the sun and the shade of my umbrella. I don’t feel as cool as I did in the 80’s but that’s alright. My psoriasis has always hidden away, for the most part, during the summer months, which makes my beach visits important and productive. I sort of like to picture each plaque like a miniature vampire; hissing and melting away as the hot sun hits it. Yea, I know it may sound strange, unless you have psoriasis…any kind of torture the stuff endures is insanely gratifying! Be smart about the sun, I am not going to tell you to use sun screen, because I don’t touch the stuff, that’s totally up to you. I just spend a moderate amount of time in the sun and call it good, it makes my psoriasis go away, which makes me happy.
Tip #4: Get an allergy test. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder. That means that your body is reacting to something it doesn’t like, it’s reacting to inflammation, possibly caused by what you’re putting in or on your body. So, you need to do as I did and get an allergy test to find out what you’re allergic to. I had the prick test; another option is to have a blood allergy test. I feel like the prick test works best, because they are using a needle to poke a little ways into your skin and then putting an individual bit of juice or pollen into that tiny little hole and then looking for an instant reaction. Turns out, I am allergic to two foods I have been consuming my entire life; dairy and certain nuts. I am also allergic to several pollens and molds, which can’t really be avoided unless I move to Antarctica…or Hawaii (…mmmm….yes…..Haaaawaaaiiiiiii). Anyways, I cut out the foods I was allergic to and voila, my psoriasis became nearly non-existent, and it took my acne and bloated tummy away with it. Getting an allergy test was the smartest medical decision I have ever made…schedule yours today while I’ve got you thinking about it!
Tip #5: Avoid prescription medications if at all possible. I already mentioned the dangers of the tarry ointment stuff. I believe that prescription medicine is important and has done some amazing things over the years. However, it is all too often used as a “band aid fix” for health problems, verses going after the root cause of the problem. I remember a few years back, I received a flyer about a new miracle medicine which promised to give me long-term relief from my psoriasis. Some possible side effects included (but were not limited to): nausea, constipation, explosive diarrhea, implosive diarrhea, certain types of cancers, stroke, liver failure, edema, heart failure and/or death. Umm…yea, I think I’ll pass. My point is, I would far rather suffer from psoriasis than deal with the many, MANY side effects of prescription medication. In any instance, I opt out of medication unless it the absolute, last solution.
Tip #6: Watch what you eat and drink. Another big one I attribute my clearer skin to is avoiding junk food, and eating healthier, whole foods. I eat a nearly vegetarian diet these days, and my skin glows all over. I also drink about a gallon and a half of fresh, clean tap water. I trust my tap water more than I do the bottled stuff. I don’t drink soda much at all, maybe 1-2 times per month, as a treat. I thoroughly believe that, in order to have a healthy outside, you must start with healthy insides. Start eating better today, just try your best.
Tip #7: Live a stress free life. As I mentioned above, you need to start with healthy insides, which means you also need to be stress free. I wholly believe that stress will harm every part of your body, including your skin. Stress increases inflammation, and I already told you what inflammation does. Do yourself a favor and decrease your stress by any means necessary; pray, meditate, laugh more, make others laugh more, smile, change careers, enjoy life, etc.
I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me. Good luck to you at killing off those plaques!