Psoriasis is a common skin condition affecting 2-3% of the UK population. It is very simply a speeding up the normal skin creation process.
Normally skin cells take about 21-28 days to replace themselves; in psoriasis this process is greatly accelerated, and skin cells can be replaced every 2-6 days. This results in an accumulation of skin cells on the surface of the skin – a psoriatic plaque. The process is the same wherever it occurs on the body.
Psoriasis can occur at any point in a person’s lifetime, affecting children, teenagers, adults and older people. It affects males and females equally.
- Psoriatic plaques – raised red patches of skin that are covered with silvery-white scales
- Plaques can appear in a variety of shapes and sizes varying from a few millimetres to several centimetres in diameter. They’re most common on the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp, although any part of the body can be affected
- It is not unusual for psoriasis to be itchy, and it can sometimes feel painful or sore
- Toe and fingernails in psoriasis sufferers also often lack lustre and develop ridges and pitting
- Psoriasis can cause a type of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis that resembles rheumatoid arthritis in some individuals
Immune dysfunction: recent research suggests that psoriatic changes in the skin begin in the immune system when certain immune cells (T cells) are triggered and become overactive. They produce inflammatory chemicals and act as if they were fighting an infection or healing a wound, which leads to the rapid growth of skin cells causing psoriatic plaques to form.
Psoriasis is therefore sometimes described as an auto-immune disease or immune-mediated condition, although it’s not yet clear what triggers the immune system to act in this way.
Genetics: around 30% of people with psoriasis have a family history of the condition, and certain genes have been identified as being linked to psoriasis. However, many genes are involved and even if the specific combination of genes has been inherited, psoriasis may not appear. A trigger is required for psoriasis to develop such as a trauma, infection or stress.
Stress: doctors have recognised the link between stress and psoriasis for centuries. The connection has been proven by clinical studies which suggest that emotional states can alter immune system responses.
Scientists have discovered that people with psoriasis have a greater number of nerves in their skin that release substances called neuropeptides. These are chemical messengers that help transmit nerve impulses and can be altered by stress. Researchers believe that these stress-altered neuropeptides help trigger or aggravate psoriasis.
For many people the key to managing psoriasis is learning to deal with stress. A Stress Test is an excellent tool for determining how your body is reacting to stress: it measures imbalances in stress hormone levels, allowing a more precise and targeted therapy.
Once specific imbalances have been identified, Smart Nutrition can design you a special diet, supplement and lifestyle protocol to help you deal with your stress and reduce the amount and severity of your psoriasis flare-ups.
Poor digestive system health: the digestive tract is a focal point for many people with psoriasis.
Poor digestion, especially incomplete protein digestion, leads to the creation of toxins known as polyamines, which contribute to excessive skin proliferation. In addition imbalances in levels of bacteria in the gut or an overgrowth of Candida albicans can worsen the condition.
A Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis is a full screen that checks for gut flora balance, candida and digestive function, and is particularly suitable for those who feel a digestive imbalance is the key driver in their condition.
Liver function: correcting abnormal liver function is an important factor in the treatment of psoriasis.
The connection between the liver and psoriasis relates to one of the liver’s basic tasks – filtering and detoxifying the blood. Psoriasis has been linked to the presence of certain toxins in the blood, thought to originate in the bowel where they are produced by bad bacteria or yeasts such as Candida. If the liver is overwhelmed by excessive levels of these toxins, or if there is a decrease in the liver’s detoxification ability, the toxin level in the blood will increase and the psoriasis will get worse.
Nutrient deficiencies: numerous studies support the notion that psoriasis is linked with certain nutritional deficiencies. Common culprits are essential fatty acids, protein, folic acid, iron, vitamin D and water.
Having a full nutritional status test such as NutrEval is an excellent way to find out exactly which nutrients you are in need of topping up. Whilst correcting nutrient deficiencies may not completely clear psoriasis, it should improve your general health.
Food sensitivities: food sensitivities may bring on or worsen psoriasis in some people.
If you feel your symptoms may be linked to a food allergy or intolerance, a simple finger prick blood test can give you vital information, which Smart Nutrition can use to design you a personalised diet that minimises these triggers.