Living with Psoriasis

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Tube and hand with moisturiser

Secondary effects. Cutaneous psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease that manifests in the form of red, scaly plaques that may cause itching or pain. Specific treatments (systemic or biological) are very effective at reducing the inflammation (with the disappearance or reduction of the plaques in a high percentage of cases), reducing the symptoms (itching and/or pain), and decreasing the risks associated with psoriasis (cardiovascular risk), in addition to improving a patient’s quality of life. In cases where the treatment does not completely eliminate the lesions, an attempt can be made to lessen the discomfort using topical treatments (moisturising creams or topical corticosteroids). Itching can also be treated with antihistamines. When the psoriasis skin plaques disappear, they do not leave a scar, so once they have gone, no further treatment is required.

Beer mug and joint crossed out; no drug consumption

Toxic habits. In recent years, a relation has been found between psoriasis and various external agents, such as alcohol and tobacco. Both alcohol and tobacco, in addition to increasing cardiovascular risk, which is already high in psoriasis patients, increase the risk of suffering psoriasis and its severity. Greater consumption of tobacco has been shown to involve a greater risk of psoriasis. On the other hand, the risk of ex‑smokers developing psoriasis is lower than that of active smokers, so it is recommended that sufferers quit smoking. High consumption of alcohol (more than two units per day for men and more than one for women) is associated with an increased risk of developing the disease and greater severity. There are patients who clearly notice the influence of alcohol and/or tobacco, as their psoriasis is aggravated, although most are not aware of the effects. The psoriasis gets worse when alcohol and/or tobacco is consumed due to an increase in the inflammatory response induced by these toxins. For this reason, dermatologists recommend avoiding both alcohol and tobacco.

Food pyramid

Nutrition. Patients with psoriasis tend to suffer from other diseases, such as diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and abdominal obesity. This is known as metabolic syndrome. This syndrome increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is, therefore, recommended that sufferers follow a diet low in sugars and saturated fats, increase their intake of vegetables, fruits, and legumes, and, in the event of any of these alterations, take the appropriate medication.

Man running; regular physical exercise

Exercise. It has been found that patients with psoriasis tend to have a more sedentary lifestyle and be more obese than the general population. Along with eliminating toxic habits, incorporating a healthy diet, and taking specific medical treatment for any analytical alterations detected (hyperglycaemia, hypercholesterolaemia, or high blood pressure), it is recommended that sufferers do physical exercise on a regular basis. It is advisable to do around 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week, like fast walking or swimming. Physical exercise is beneficial for psoriasis patients, both because it decreases cardiovascular risk factors, and due to its effect on the immune system. It is believed that exercise helps reduce inflammation, one of the factors that worsens psoriasis, and, in addition, helps control emotional strain, which is also associated with psoriasis getting worse. Finally, in overweight patients, exercise together with a healthy diet helps them maintain an adequate weight.

Symbol of man and woman

Sexuality. Psoriasis affects the genital area in around 30% of patients. Although new treatments control the psoriasis in all its locations, including the genital area, as it is a chronic disease that develops as periodic outbreaks, we have to accept the fact that it may affect the genital area at some time. In this case, the area can be treated topically, as psoriasis of this area usually responds well to this kind of treatment. The area should be kept clean, and gentle, perfume‑free hygiene products used, with corticosteroid creams being applied for short periods of time.

Travelling by plane

Travel. Travelling does not have to be a problem for psoriasis sufferers. Even so, the emotional strain associated with a trip, or changes in the weather or humidity, can cause lesions to appear or get worse in some patients. On the other hand, when travelling to countries which require vaccinations with live viruses, or where you could contract an infection, it is necessary to assess the risk‑benefit of travelling, especially for patients whose psoriasis is being treated with immunosuppressive drugs. In all cases, it is advisable to discuss this with the doctor to assess the steps to follow.

Emotional support between two women

Social and emotional support. Emotional stress can cause psoriasis to worsen or recur. Relaxation and emotional stress management techniques can help reduce discomfort and decrease the risk of depression and anxiety.

Substantiated information by:

Felipe Julio Ramirez Garcia
Mercè Alsina Gibert
Paula Aguilera Peiro
Sara Gómez Armayones

Published: 22 February 2019
Updated: 22 February 2019

The donations that can be done through this webpage are exclusively for the benefit of Hospital Clínic of Barcelona through Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and not for BBVA Foundation, entity that collaborates with the project of PortalClínic.


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