Wednesday, 13th June 2012
An estimated 100,000 people in Ireland have psoriasis.
There are several different types of psoriasis but plaque psoriasis is the most common. It is characterised by patches of red, dry skin usually on the elbows, knees and scalp. These patches or 'plaques' are caused by rapid skin cell renewal. Skin is constantly in a state of renewal but usually this process takes about 28 days. In psoriasis however, the rate at which your skin is replaced is increased to about three to four days. New skin cells accumulate on the surface of your skin, forming thick plaques of dry, red and often scaly skin. Skin can also be incredibly itchy or painful to touch.
Why does skin behave in this way? We're not entirely sure. Your immune system produces substances that cause your skin to produce new cells faster than usual, but why it does this, is not clear. Triggers vary from person to person from there being a family history of psoriasis, to a throat infection or physical or emotional stress.
Conventional treatment usually involves medicated creams or ointments, including steroids, but these aren't always suitable for everyone.
As an alternative Oregon Grape Root extract can be very effective, with some people reporting a significant reduction in redness and dry skin after just three weeks. Beneficial effects are mainly due to high levels of the alkaloid berberine, which lend it its antibiotic and anti-infective properties. Berberine is also known to support the liver, which is often under stress and in need of a helping hand in people with chronic skin conditions. Oregon Grape Root is usually taken in capsule or tincture format.
If skin is particularly itchy, you may want to try an Oregon Grape cream or balm, which you would apply topically to the affected area. Other ingredients that can help to soothe irritated skin include Calendula, Chamomile and Neem.
There are also specially formulated shampoos available for people with psoriasis on their scalp.
For further information contact Frances and Barry Coffey at Full of Beans on 051 843653.
Letters to the Editor
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