Psoriasis is a common skin disorder that can be identified by plaques of red and bumpy skin. Caused by the abnormally rapid production of new skin cells, those with psoriasis have skin cells that build up and accumulate on the surface of the skin faster than old cells can shed. In addition to red, itchy patches with silver scales, patients with psoriasis may experience soreness, swollen joints, and cracked skin. Psoriasis can grow anywhere but most commonly appears on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back. Although there are many treatment options available, there is no cure for psoriasis. Psoriasis patches can heal and then come back throughout a person’s lifetime.
While the exact cause of psoriasis remains unknown, something wrong with the immune system can cause inflammation, triggering new skin cells to form too quickly. Psoriasis tends to run in families but can skip generations. Psoriasis flare-ups can also be triggered by scrapes, cuts, and certain medications.
Psoriasis & Hormones
Heightened stress levels can trigger psoriasis and leave the skin’s protective barrier compromised. Another potential cause and trigger for psoriasis are fluctuations in sex hormone levels- especially estrogen and progesterone in women. The respective spike and decrease in estrogen during puberty and menopause is linked to an increase in inflammation which can cause a psoriasis flare-up. Contrary to these processes, many pregnant women report a lessening of psoriasis symptoms due to the increased levels of estrogen and progesterone present. Because of the researched correlation between estrogen levels and psoriasis flare-ups, hormone therapy can be a suitable treatment option.
There are many treatment options available for psoriasis to help lessen painful symptoms and manage flare-ups including topical skincare products, oral medication, and in-office dermatologist procedures. The most common goals with psoriasis treatments are to lessen inflammation, remove plaque, and slow the generation of new skin cells.
Topical treatment options include:
- Creams such as a corticosteroid help reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system.
- Topical retinoid products can aid in cell turnover, allowing older skin cells to shed more quickly while new skin cells are generated.
- Salicylic acid can aid in the skin cell shedding process. This active ingredient chemically exfoliates the skin and softens scales.
Dr. Zenovia’s top tips to control and prevent future psoriasis flare-ups include:
Use Moisturizing Lotions: Psoriasis symptoms can get worse when the skin is dry so it’s important to moisturize and protect the delicate skin barrier. Suitable for even the most sensitive skin, Dr. Zenovia’s Peptide + Ceramide Moisturizer contains a unique combination of bio-equivalent ceramides, potent humectants and emollients to help attract, retain, and distribute moisture to fortify the skin’s protective barrier and combat dryness.
Have a Humidifier at Home: Using a humidifier in your home is an important step in keeping your skin hydrated and healthy, especially during the winter months if you live in a dry climate. Dr. Zenovia recommends using a humidifier in the rooms you spend the most time in such as your living room and bedroom. The humidifier's size should be based on the size of the room it’s placed in.
Avoid Scrapes & Cuts: Trauma to the skin can cause psoriasis flare-ups. Be careful when shaving and try to avoid insect bites, chafing, and scrapes.
Skincare & Scalp Treatment: Dr. Zenovia recommends incorporating products in your skincare routine that are gentle and hydrating. Dr. Zenovia’s Bakuchiol Hydrating Cleanser is a clinical grade, pH balanced, soap-free cleanser specially designed to be suitable for even the driest, sensitive skin. Infused with a powerful antioxidant blend of green tea and botanicals, this cleanser thoroughly removes environmental pollutants, excess oil, and makeup while refreshing and moisturizing the skin.
After cleansing, applying a facial serum will help deliver targeted active ingredients to combat dryness. Dr. Zenovia’s Hyaluronic Acid + Peptide Serum is an ultra-light moisturizing formula featuring fractionated Hyaluronic Acid and an exclusive phytoestrogen technology, known to help support the production of collagen and elastin for a supple, nourished complexion.
Lastly, applying Dr. Zenovia’s Peptide + Ceramide Repairing Moisturizer is key for locking in moisture and protecting your skin barrier. Dr. Zenovia also recommends using a medicated shampoo for psoriasis on the scalp.
Relaxation: The hormones released from emotional stress can cause inflammation. Stress can also slow down the skin’s repair process. Regularly practicing relaxation and stress-reducing techniques can help prevent psoriasis flare-ups. Yoga, meditation, exercise, and deep breathing exercises are great ways to reduce cortisol levels.
In-Office Skin Consultation: Since psoriasis is a lifelong skin disorder, it is important to consult with a board-certified dermatologist for treatments suitable for your skin. Be sure to inform your doctor about any medications you may be taking since some can cause psoriasis flare-ups.
Dr. Zenovia’s Top Tip: Never pick at patches or scales! This can make your psoriasis worse.