Psoriasis is a skin disorder that appears as raised, reddish-pink areas covered with silvery scales and red borders. Psoriasis most commonly appears on the scalp, elbows, knees, groin, and lower back. It "comes and goes," and may appear as a few spots or involve large areas. It is not contagious, either to other body parts or other people. More than 6 million people in the United States have psoriasis, which is seen in both sexes and all age groups. It can be triggered by emotional stress and can run in families. Severe cases can be physically painful and emotionally traumatic due to its unsightly appearance. Approximately 10 percent of psoriasis sufferers develop psoriatic arthritis, a painful arthritic condition.

Signs and Symptoms

The following are symptoms of psoriasis.

What Causes It?

The cause of psoriasis is uncertain, but researchers do know that it involves a higher-than-normal rate of skin-cell production. Dead skin cells accumulate and form thick patches. Several underlying factors may trigger the disorder or flare-ups, including the following.

What to Expect at Your Provider's Office

Your health care provider will examine your skin and ask questions about your physical and emotional health. You may need a blood test to check levels of calcium, zinc, and certain other elements.

Treatment Options

Your provider may suggest one or several different treatment options.

Drug Therapies

Topical creams include the following. Systemic drugs are taken orally and are used for more severe conditions. Over the Counter

Complementary and Alternative Therapies

You may benefit from mind-body therapies and stress management. Exercise can help too, as can drinking plenty of water.

Nutrition Herbs
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Mix equal parts of the above herbs and use 1 cup tea three times per day or 30 to 60 drops tincture three times per day. This is especially effective if sipped. Take 5 to 15 minutes before meals to stimulate digestion.

Topical creams may relieve discomfort. Chickweed (Stellaria media) relieves itching, and marigold (Calendula officinalis) speeds healing of open lesions.

There have been few studies examining the effectiveness of specific homeopathic remedies. Professional homeopaths, however, may recommend one or more of the following treatments for Psoriasis based on their knowledge and clinical experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type. In homeopathic terms, a person's constitution is his or her physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate remedy for a particular individual. Chiropractic
No well-designed studies have evaluated the effect of chiropractic on individuals with psoriasis, but there have been a few case reports about spinal manipulation reducing skin lesions in some individuals. One expert, for example, wrote about a 52-year old man with severe psoriasis who experienced significant improvement after receiving chiropractic care (even more than the improvement seen with conventional medication). Although this report is encouraging, researchers are still not clear whether chiropractic care is helpful for all people with psoriasis.

Following Up

See your provider regularly until your psoriasis is under control.

Special Considerations

In pregnancy, oral medications can be damaging to a fetus and topical creams can be absorbed into the bloodstream.


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