How to treat psoriasis and the 11 foods that can help soothe flare ups

PEOPLE with psoriasis know the struggle of finding a treatment that works for them, all too well.

The condition causes red and crusty patches with silvery scales to flare-up on the skin.

In more serious cases it can have a crushing impact on a sufferer’s life.

Roughly two per cent of the population – both men and women – are affected by psoriasis.

Prominent figures that deal with the skin problem are model Cara Delevingne and singer Cyndi Lauper.

TV personality Kim Kardashian has also described psoriasis as her “big flaw”, always “hoping for a cure”.

Sadly, there is no cure for psoriasis. 

Patients have to learn to deal with the condition by finding a treatment that works for them.

But some have also found that modifying their diet helps.

The NHS does not make specific diet recommendations for people with psoriasis, other than advising a balanced, healthy diet with regular exercise which it would recommend for everyone. It says this can also relieve stress, which may improve psoriasis symptoms.

The Psoriasis Association in the UK says there is not a definite link with food or a diet that works for everybody.

But it says some foods may help to reduce inflammation in the body – which may help psoriasis because it is an inflammatory condition.

Will keeping an eye on your foods help relieve your psoriasis? Maybe, but there is no proof.

Read on to find out psoriasis treatments and food tweaks.

Treatments 

The NHS says: “A wide range of treatments are available for psoriasis, but identifying the most effective one can be difficult.”

Treatments fall into three categories.

First, topical creams and ointments applied to the skin are usually the first option to help with mild psoriasis. 

If the condition has spread to the scalp, there are also shampoos and ointments that can help.

Examples include:

  • Emollients to keep the skin moist and reduce water loss
  • Steroid creams – which are only prescribable – to calm the skin 
  • Vitamin D analogues to slow the production of skin cells and reduce inflammation
  • Calcineurin inhibitors to dampen inflammation and the immune system, sometimes in sensitive areas
  • Coal tar to reduce scales and itchiness
  • Dithranol to suppress the production of skin cells

Another category of treatment is phototherapy, which uses natural and artificial light to treat psoriasis.

The skin is exposed to ultraviolet light, which is different from sunbeds.

You may be offered:

  • Ultraviolet B (UVB) phototherapy, for people who have not responded to creams. This slows down the production of skin cells 
  • Psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA), for people who have severe and untreated psoriasis. It penetrates the skin more than ultraviolet B
  • Combination light therapy, which can sometimes improve the effectiveness of other treatments, like coal tar.

For psoriasis patients whose condition is proving difficult to treat, they may be seen by a specialist who can give treatments that target the whole body.

These are either tablets or injections that generally either reduce inflammation in the body or suppress the immune system.

They all have side effects and risks – for example some are harmful to an unborn baby – so it’s up to the patient to discuss those with their doctor.

Examples of medication include:

  • Methotrexate – a pill taken once a week that slows down skin cell production and suppress inflammation
  • Acitretin – a pill taken daily by patients with severe psoriasis that reduces skin production 
  • Adalimumab and Ustekinumab – injections every few weeks that are stopped if there are no improvements due to risks such as severe infections 

Foods to eat

Try eating:

  1. Salmon
  2. Mackerel
  3. Walnuts
  4. Chia seeds
  5. Flaxseed oil
  6. Kale
  7. Blueberries
  8. Butternut squash
  9. Cheese
  10. Eggs
  11. Tuna

Oily fish, nuts and seeds

These foods are abundant in Omega 3s, which are fatty acids that are beneficial for the skin. 

The Psoriasis Association says: “There has been some research in other inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, that suggests that eating foods that reduce inflammation in the body (such as those high in Omega 3 fatty acids – oily fish, nuts and seeds) may be helpful. 

“There is no definite evidence to say that this works in psoriasis, but, again, it may be an approach that some people find helps.”

Foods like salmon, mackerel, walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseed oil are high in Omega 3.

Fruit and vegetables

The NHS does not recommend a specific psoriasis diet, but it does say it’s important to have a balanced diet, which includes plenty of healthy fruit and veg.

Eating well and exercising more can relieve stress, which may in turn reduce psoriasis symptoms. 

Many fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants or anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the skin, namely dark leafy green vegetables, like kale, berries and squashes. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to psoriasis, Healthline reports.

The “sunshine vitamin”, which you can get from sitting in the sun (with SPF), is used to topically treat the skin but could help from the inside, too.

One scientific paper explains how vitamin D is crucial for the skin generally, and in those with psoriasis, by regulating inflammation. 

Foods that increase vitamin D include cheese, eggs and tuna. 

Foods to avoid 

Gluten 

Experts say some research suggests a gluten-free diet may help with the skin condition.

Gluten is abundant in the Western diet, found in bread, pasta, biscuits, cakes and even beer.

The National Psoriasis Foundation says: “The jury is still out on eliminating gluten — a complex protein found in wheat, barley and rye. 

“In a small number of cases, eliminating gluten can lead to improvements. However, following a gluten-free diet, which is very restrictive, is a major commitment. It’s not a step you should take unnecessarily.”

The foundation says it can take several months for the effects of cutting gluten to become clear, and warns those that have seen a difference may have already had a gluten intolerance.

Nightshades

Nightshade foods are thought to be behind flare ups of conditions including psoriasis and eczema.

They include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and aubergine, as well as cigarettes (tobacco).

While there haven’t been any large trials proving that night-shade foods, which are high in a compound called alkaloids, cause skin flare ups, some people claim to see an improvement when they don’t eat them.

A small survey of psoriasis patients' dietary habits, published in the journal Dermatology and Therapy, found more than half of respondents reported skin improvements after reducing their intake of nightshade vegetables.

They aren’t necessary to completely cut out, but you could talk to your doctor about trialling a period whereby you watch what happens to your symptoms when you eliminate and then eat these foods. 

Alcohol

Again, it’s not proven that alcohol is the sole explanation for the complex condition psoriasis.

But the Psoriasis Association says “there are plausible arguments for why drinking might affect psoriasis (alcohol is dehydrating, and therefore could dry skin out even more)”.

One scientific paper said that “patients with psoriasis and alcohol overconsumption tend to have more severe inflammation”. 

The association says: “Some people might find that alcohol does worsen their condition, but if an individual does not find this, and it is safe to combine alcohol with whatever treatment they are undergoing, then moderate alcohol consumption can be one of life’s pleasures.”

We pay for your stories!

Do you have a story for The Sun news desk?

Email us at [email protected] or call 0207 782 4104. You can WhatsApp us on 07423 720 250. We pay for videos too.

Click here to upload yours.

Click here to get The Sun newspaper delivered for FREE for the next six weeks.

    Source: Read Full Article