What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin disorder that affects at least One out of every fifty persons in the United States with both sexes and all age groups involved. The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown.
All body cells go through a life-death process. Normally, the cells that compose the outer part of the skin will shed about 28 to 30 days after they are formed in the deep layers of the skin. In psoriasis, however, the rates of cell multiplication and growth is abnormally rapid and disordered, so that skin sheds every three to four days rather than about every month. The overproduction of skin cells lead to thickening of the skin and scaling. Silvery plaques occur most frequently on the scalp, elbows, knees and lower back, but can occur almost anywhere on the skin.
The psoriatic process in any given area is reversible. Consequently, the involved skin may return to a normal appearance without scarring whenever this process is reversed, either spontaneously or as a result of treatment.
Psoriasis is neither infectious nor contagious. Psoriasis is more likely to occur in persons whose family members also have this condition; thus part of the cause is certainly hereditary.
Certain factors have been found to aggravate and, in some cases, precipitate the outbreak of psoriasis:
Injury to the skin commonly precipitates the appearance of psoriatic lesions. If the skin is cut, scratched, rubbed or severely sunburned, a flare-up often will occur 10 to 14 days after the skin is irritated.
General health factors may influence psoriasis. Many patients note flare-ups of the disease during physical and emotional stress.
Infections can aggravate psoriasis. Frequently, a flare-up of the disease can be triggered by severe viral or bacterial infections of the upper respiratory track. This has been particularly true following severe streptococcal infections of the throat.
Psoriasis can also be triggered by certain drugs, including lithium and propranolol.
Lastly, changes in the seasons can cause a variation in the severity of psoriatic lesions. This is less of a factor in the South where the seasonal change is not as pronounced as other climates. Nonetheless, psoriasis usually improves in the summer months and worsens during the winter. However, sometimes the converse is true. The determining factor may be the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which are more intense during the summer months.
There is great variety in the severity of psoriasis from person to person. Also, within the same person, the degree of involvement can vary greatly over time. It frequently gets worse or better for no apparent reason. Why it pops up in some locations rather than others is not explained. Some people have it for only a short time, while others have outbreaks frequently or constantly.
In some cases, psoriasis may affect the nails by causing pitting on the surface, separating the nail from the nail bed and thickening or crumbling of the nail plate.
About five percent of people with psoriasis also have arthritis. Some of these people have a form of arthritis unrelated to psoriasis, while others can have arthritis as a part of psoriasis.
The arthritis of psoriasis sometimes improves when the skin manifestations of the disease improve.
Because psoriasis can become worse if neglected, treatment is important. Psoriasis can easily be treated with many over the counter cream, lotion, spray and shampoo. The most severe forms of psoriasis may require oral prescription medication with or without combined ultraviolet treatments.
The goal of psoriasis treatment is to relieve discomfort and slow down rapid skin proliferation. Treatment varies according to the extent of the condition. Moisturizing creams, ointments, lotions and sprays prevent water in the skin from evaporating, improving the patient’s appearance and controlling the itching that is often produced by dry skin.
With respect to the different treatments for psoriasis, some of these do not work for all people and some treatments that help some people do not help others. You have received information on one or more types of treatment. It is important that you faithfully carry out this treatment daily for a sufficient period of time to give it an adequate chance to work. It takes time to clear or improve psoriasis. Once your problem is well controlled, minimum daily treatment may prevent it from breaking out again.
Types of Psoriasis
What is Eczema
Eczema is one of the most common skin conditions, affecting people of all ages and both sexes. The terms eczema and dermatitis are often used by doctors to describe the same set of symptoms; irritated, red and itchy inflamed skin.
These conditions can be extremely uncomfortable; fortunately there are many things you can do to soothe the symptoms, making eczema easier to live with.
The word ‘eczema’ comes from Greek and literally means ‘boiling over’. Normal skin acts as a barrier to prevent water loss and stop skin irritants from penetrating. If you have eczema your skin doesn’t do this as effectively as it should, leading to dryness, itching and cracked, scaly skin which lets in bacteria and allergens that can cause an allergic reaction. It is not a contagious condition.
The different types of eczema
Atopic eczema is the body's over-reaction to foreign substances, causing the skin to become red, inflamed and very itchy. It tends to occur in people who have a natural tendency to develop allergies such as asthma, hay fever and food allergies. This tendency can be inherited. The condition is very itchy and mainly affects the inside of the elbows and knees, and the wrists and ankles. It is most frequently seen in children, although adults can experience it.
Contact dermatitis is caused when your skin comes into contact with something that it is allergic or sensitive to.
Eczema symptoms are very variable.
Mild Dry Eczema
The mildest form of eczema involves chronic dry skin and itching. Some people never develop the inflammatory symptoms associated with acute eczema, but the condition is still unpleasant and requires treatment with emollient therapy.
At its worst, acute eczema can involve a whole range of severe symptoms including dry skin, inflammation, itching, blistering, redness, scaling and weeping.
Once someone has been suffering from acute eczema, their symptoms may enter a long term stage, as the skin function deteriorates. This is known as chronic eczema.
The following features may occur:
- Initial inflammation subsides and is replaced by a thickening of the epidermis.
- Scales appear as cell turnover increases.
Itching and scratching leads to fissuring of the epidermis when the skin becomes broken and cracked.
- Incessant scratching may produce secondary thickening (lichenification). The skin is still very dry.
Eczema in children
Atopic eczema affects around 1 in 8 children and almost 30% of all new-born babies carry the risk of developing the condition. It usually starts in young babies who have dry, itchy, sore cheeks, which they may try to relieve by rubbing on the pillow. The condition progresses down the body, affecting the creases of the knees and elbows if it’s a mild case, or the whole body if severe. It also often occurs on the scalp. Children with widespread eczema tend to be very itchy and miserable, particularly if they’re too warm at night.
The good news is that about 75% of children grow out of eczema before they reach their mid-teens. However, their skin will always remain dry and prone to hand eczema so a good skin care routine is necessary.
Eczema in adults
If you continue to experience eczema as you get older, you will probably find that it affects the face, neck, upper chest, front of the shoulders, areas where the skin creases and the backs of the hands.
Again the main symptom is severe itching and the condition can be exacerbated by stress.
The itch scratch cycle
Eczema is often accompanied by a severe itching. Scratching can cause damage to the skin. This allows bacteria to penetrate the skin and the body’s immune system reacts causing inflammation which in turn leads to further itching. Read more
What causes eczema?
The exact cause of atopic eczema is unknown. People inherit a tendency to the disorder, but the symptoms themselves seem to be set off by a number of ‘trigger factors’, for example:
In adults, stress, anxiety, depression and other psychological factors can all influence atopic conditions. In particular, they can make the severity and flare-ups of eczema much worse.
Irritants in the home or environment
If you get eczema you’re more likely to react to irritants which you inhale or which have contact with your skin. These include:
- Dust mites
- The fur of dogs and cats, as well as horse hair
- Certain plants
- Low humidity – dry air caused by air conditioning, central heating or
- frosty weather can aggravate eczema
- Overheating due to central heating and woollen or synthetic clothing can trigger itching
- Certain foods may trigger eczema, as can the following food additives:
- Parabens E214 to E218
- Sodium Benzoate E211
- Sorbic acid E200
- Butyl hydroxyanisole E320
- Butyl Hydroxytoluene E321
- Tartrazine E102
- Erythrosine E123
- Amaranth E127
• Industrial or chemical irritants
• Certain chemicals such as detergents, biological washing powders and chlorine in swimming pools can trigger ezcema.
How climate affects eczema isn't proven. However, there is evidence that the condition generally improves in mountains over 1500m high, in seashore locations and humid regions.
Atopic eczema often becomes worse in Autumn, as central heating is more widely used, leading to a reduction in room humidity.
Fungus of the Skin
The human skin is a wonderful tissue which among its many functions also serves as an effective shield against invasion of our body by noxious organisms, including molds or fungi. However, the skin armor fails its protective function when it “rusts” or becomes damaged, as a result of combined humidity and heat, trauma to the skin or decreased immunity.
Many of the more than one hundred thousand species of fungi on our planet have adapted to live on human skin, and many do so in moderation without causing disease in the human host. It is only under conditions of the skin’s reduced resistance that fungi invade the human skin, and in certain instances even the inside of the body.
Fungal infections are the most common cause of skin disease, not only in the United States but also world wide. The most common fungal infections are caused by a group of fungi known as tinea or dermatophytes that tend to attack the scalp (the skin of the head), the skin of the body, the groins, and the feet. Other groups of fungi may also be involved in skin infections. The tinea or fungal infections are popularly named by a variety of names, some more appropriate than others, such as “athlete foot,” “jock itch,” and “ring worm” (although they are a fungal infection and not a worm invasion).
People who perspire freely or work in a hot or humid environment are more at risk of having a fungal infection of the skin.
The diagnosis is often made on the basis of the location and appearance of the lesions, but in more difficult cases, or in cases that do not respond to therapy, the fungal lesions may be scraped and cultured and examined microscopically and/or under fluorescent light.
The treatment consists of topical anti-fungal creams, as well as oral medications. Many of the topical antifungal creams are available as over the counter medications. However, the oral medications are available only by physician’s prescription because of their side effects. For example, griseofulvin, a common oral anti-fungal medication, may cause headaches, nausea, and rarely, temporary liver damage. Alcohol drinking is forbidden during oral anti-fungal therapy, because it may increase the liver damage and interferes with the effectiveness of the medication.
Ringworm of the scalp:
Tinea capitis or ringworm of the scalp is a fungal infection that affects primarily school age children, although in recent years it has been reported with increased frequency in adults. The infection may be transmitted through combs, brushes, barrettes, pomades, bed linen, stuffed toys and from person to person. Most children are not contagious if using topical and oral antifungal medication, and may attend school.
The fungus invades the hair shaft and causes the hairs to break and results in a fungal rash. The fungal rash consists of one or several reddish scaly patches usually associated with hair loss. Some lesions, if untreated, may become severely inflamed, boggy or ulcerated, a condition known as kerion. Such lesions may result in marked scarring and permanent patchy baldness.
Occasionally, the fungi responsible for the scalp infection may produce atypical lesions presenting as black dot and blond dot ring worm, balding black dot ringworm areas, diffuse scaling, or as eczematous rashes, and the diagnosis may be much more difficult. Treatment requires application of topical anti-fungal creams, washing of the hair with Nizoral shampoo.
Ringworm of the face:
Tinea faciei or ringworm of the face is not a common site of fungal infection and often has an unusual presentation that mimics other skin conditions or rashes. This fungal infection may be contracted from dogs, cats, horses and cattle.
Tinea barbae or ringworm of the beard is a fungal infection of the bearded areas of the face and neck and occurs only in adult males. Oral griseofulvin is the best treatment. Patients with associated inflammatory reactions may require also oral cortisone like medication.
Ringworm of the body:
Tinea corporis or ringworm of the body is more frequent in children and youth living in a warm humid environment. The clinical symptoms are a result of the fungal byproducts that are toxic or cause an allergic reaction.
The lesions are usually slightly scaly, round or oval lesions with clear centers and well defined, slightly raised borders, and develop mainly in the outer layer of the skin (stratum corneum). The lesions are contagious and are spread mostly by infected household pets (especially cats or kittens) and occasionally through person to person contact.
The lesions usually respond well to topical antifungal creams. However, oral medication (Griseofulvin) may be required if the involved areas are extensive.
It is important to use the medications for one week after the lesions have cleared because there may be some residual infection within hair follicles. Household pets should also be treated to avoid recurrent infections.
Tinea versicolor is a mild, chronic fungal infection of the outside layer of the skin (stratum corneum) and is usually asymptomatic. Some patients do complain of itching, but this is usually mild and resolves as the rash is treated. The lesions have often a geographic like configuration with a somewhat branny appearance and appear as a discolored area of the body. On untanned skin the rash is pink to brown.
In tanned individuals, in which the fungus has prevented the tanning of the underlying skin in the affected areas, the lesions look white.Read more
Tinea cruris or jock itch is a fungal infection of the groins, areas around the genitalia and the anus, and affects primarily adult men. It is not a contagious condition and direct person to person contact rarely causes an infection. Both groin areas are affected by moist reddish-purplish lesions with well defined, reddish, scaly and slightly elevated borders. The lesions are markedly itchy and may be occasionally painful.
The lesions usually respond well to topical antifungal creams applied twice daily to the skin. If the affected areas are very itchy or inflamed, a cortisone cream or ointment may be added. Recurrences may be prevented by wearing loose cotton underwear, dusting the groins with baby powder and drying thoroughly after bathing.
Tinea pedis or athlete’s foot is the most common fungal infection of skin. It is more common in adolescent males and in children whose father or older brothers have chronic untreated athlete’s foot. It usually begins as a white, wet, skin area that peels easily away between the toes. The lesions, more commonly seen in the webs between the fourth and little toes, spread progressively, are commonly associated with blisters, and are accompanied by itching or marked discomfort. The lesions may be complicated by a secondary bacterial infection.
People who have a tinea pedis infection and shave their legs may inoculate the fungus underneath the skin and may develop a deep skin infection of the roots of the hairs (hair follicles).
Usually antifungal cream with or without an antibiotic are sufficient, but extensive involvement may require oral griseofulvin.
To avoid recurrent infections it is recommended to keep the feet as dry as possible, use a foot powder daily, wearing socks which are at least 60% cotton and alternating two or three pairs of shoes, so they will always be completely dry. Open-toed sandals are recommended and boots should be avoided. It is also a good idea to wear slippers when showering in public places like gyms as these are prime places for this infection to be acquired.
Fungal infection of the nails:
Fungal infections of the nails (onchomycosis) are seen primarily in adults, and affect nearly 11 million Americans. The affected nails are usually thickened, discolored and show accumulation of debris under the nails and occasionally separation of the nail from the nail’s bed. Toenails are more frequently affected than fingernails.
The nail fungal infestations are difficult to treat and require both topical antifungal creams and oral griseofulvin for six months or more. Sometimes the fungal infections do not respond to the above treatments and other antifungal medications (such as oral itraconazole, terbenafine, etc.) may be required. These are also often treated with liquid antifungal solutions that are placed under the nail using a dropper.
Fungal ear infection:
Fungal ear infection (Otomycosis) is a superficial fungal infection of the outer ear canal. The infection is manifested by inflammation, itching, scaling and marked pain. Secondary bacterial infections are common. These infections are usually seen in persons with compromised immune systems.
Usually the patients are advised to clean the affected area with a Burrow’s solution, or a 5% aluminum acetate solution. In more severe cases a local antiseptic solution may also be prescribed.
Candida skin infections:
Candida albicans is a filamentous (thready) fungus which may infect not only the skin, but also the genital areas causing vulvar inflammation, the throat causing pharyngitis and even the inner viscera. Candida infections are seen in individuals with decreased immune capabilities such as diabetics, cancer patients and HIV positive patients. Oral antifungal medications such as Ketoconazole are commonly used in treatment.
In conclusion, fungal skin infections, although generally not life threatening, may cause marked discomfort and, if left untreated, may lead to significant chronic complications.
About Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is imported from Australia; the oil is extracted utilizing steam distillation process. Tea Tree is a small, scrub like tree with needle shaped leaves. Botanical name is Melaleuca Alternifolia; the color of the essential oil is Pale Yellow to colorless, consistency is thin with a medium to strong aroma.
Possible Benefits of Tea Tree Oil:
It is a very powerful immune stimulant; it can fight all three infectious organisms, bacteria, fungi and viruses. For the skin and scalp, Tea Tree Oil has been used to fight acne, head lice, oily skin, dandruff, eczema, psoriasis, toenail/fingernail fungus, athlete’s foot, ringworm, dry/cracked skin, minor wounds, insect bites, sunburn, herpes, vaginal infections and more. It is considered to be beneficial for healing scalp psoriasis.
Pure Tea Tree oil is one of the strongest natural antiseptic and keeps its effectiveness in the presence of blood and infection. Tea Tree Oil Therapy is a powerful medicine that is quite gentle to the skin; it penetrates and heals the skin while being kind to healthy tissues.
Tea Tree Oil has shown to be many more times effective than other antiseptics like Phenol, Chlorhexidine, Hydrogen Peroxide and Quartarnary Ammonium compounds.
During studies preformed by health care professionals’ tea tree oil has proven to be more effective in killing staph bacteria than many popular antibiotics made by man. Additional studies have shown that benzoyl peroxide is less effective in treating acne then tea tree oil and the oil does not leave the skin red and irritated.
According to physicians, tea tree oil passed the Kelsey Sykes test, the most rigorous antiseptic test available. It proved effective, both in vitro and in vivo, against fungi such as Candida albicans and ringworm, and bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, and Streptococcus. In the publication Natural Health, Natural Medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil stated that “tea tree oil is the best treatment I know for fungal infections of the skin.”
A statement from the National Psoriasis Foundation, “Today, tea tree oil is the active ingredient in a variety of creams, lotions, soaps and shampoos. Some Foundation members report success with it, particularly for scalp psoriasis.” Information quoted from the Internet Health Library, “Research in Australia has shown that tea tree oil and oil of lavender are both helpful in treating eczema. These oils should be added to a good carrier oil such as vitamin E oil or almond oil before being applied to the affected areas. Vitamin E, as mentioned above, is an excellent antioxidant and therefore helps strengthen and nourish the blood vessels.”
Blend with Carrier Oil:
Tea Tree oil blends well with Vitamin E, Sweet Almond, Avocado, Wheat Germ, Cinnamon, Clove, Lavender, Lemon, Nutmeg, Thyme and Rosemary Oil.
Keep out of reach of children & animal. Use only as directed.
Don’t use tea tree oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
The oil may burn if it gets into the eyes, nose, mouth, or other tender areas.
Some people have allergic reactions, including rashes and itching, when applying tea tree oil. Good idea to try a patch test first.
If you have heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, epilepsy, cancer or other major health condition, use oil cautiously.
If you experience redness, irritation, swelling and pain, stop use immediately and consult a Physician.