The name of the disease is derived from the Greek word ‘psora’ which means ‘itch’. In ancient Hahnemanian days, diseases were categorised into three miasms – psora, syphilis and sycosis. They called itch and functional diseases as psora; complicated, destructive and veneral diseases as syphilis; and fig wart and tumourous diseases as sycosis. Syphilis and sycosis usually arise complicating the initial psora. Psoriasis is one of the most maltreated diseases from olden days, which continues now with the search of a good remedy.
Psoriasis is a non-contagious, dry, inflammatory, ugly skin disorder, which can involve the entire system of a person. This disease is chronic in nature with a tendency to relapse. It is mostly inherited. In this disease, the skin keeps scaling as flakes, due to rapid, excessive multiplication of the epidermis cells which look like fishy skin ( plaques – thick accumulation of silvery, scaly skins) and finally peels off as exfoliation. The silvery plaques are caused by accelerated regeneration of skin due to a rapid destructive process. It will not spread from one person to another by contact, but can be transmitted genetically (25 per cent).
Psoriasis occurs most commonly in the third decade of life. It has higher incidence in females
than males. Children are rarely affected. Whites suffer more than blacks. It can occur in single or multiple spots. It is often found to be persistent without any spread in case of single area involvement (tip of fingers, elbows, etc), whereas it spreads rapidly in case of multiple spots occurrences. It usually has a familial trait. Psoriasis most commonly occurs on the extensor aspect, i.e. elbows, knees & lower back. The other common places are scalp, tips of fingers or toes, palms, soles, umbilicus, gluteus, under the breasts aand genitals. Nearly 30 per cent of psoriasis patients have arthritis problems.
Causes – The causes remain unknown. It is supposed to be an auto immune disorder which is inherited. The occurrences are more common in winter and better in the warm climates. The complaint is also seen to be aggravated after depression, worries, excessive sweating, hot sun, periods, full moon or new moon phases, drugs, fever, etc. Sometimes food can also trigger the disease process. For example – citrus fruits, sour foods, sauces, coffee, tea, alcohol and soft drinks.
May vary, depending upon the type and intensity of the psoriasis. The main symptoms are skin symptoms, but other symptoms like joint pains, problem involving the heart can also occur. Symptoms of psoriasis can shine and wane any time and rebound any time with variation in intensity and remission periods. However, in most cases, psoriasis is persistent and occurs symmetrically denoting its systemic origin.
The common symptoms are
- Dryness of skin
- Intense itching which leads to scratching
- Cracks in skin
- Burning of skin
- Macules, papules and pustules in the skin
- Adherent silvery scales – when peeled off shows red skin
- Yellow or discoloured pitted nails
- Pustular blisters
- Joint pains with inflammation and swelling
Sometimes spondylosis, gout, renal stones, abdominal disorders
Depending upon the place of involvement and type of symptoms, psoriasis has been classified as following types. Plaque psoriasis – is the commonest psoriasis named after the characteristic occurrence of plaque as crusts. The removal of plaque will expose raw inflamed skin.
- Psoriatic arthritis – psoriasis accompanied by joint pain
- Pustular psoriasis – psoriasis with pustular blisters
- Guttate psoriasis – multiple dotted occurrence of psoriasis
- Flexural psoriasis – smooth inflamed psoriasis in folds of skin without scaling
Erythrodermic psoriasis – severe form of psoriasis with terrible itching and redness
Diagnosis – is made easily by clinical examination. Usually no tests are required to diagnose psoriasis, but to rule out other complications, blood tests, urine test and imaging studies are often performed. Sometimes biopsy may be necessary to differentiate it from fungal infections. Blood tests are done for total count, differential count, ESR, RA factor, ASO titre, Serum uric acid level, T-cells, etc. Leucocytosis and increased T-cell lymphocytes are often noted. The microscopic examination of the discharges or blister fluid shows only lymphocytes infiltration. Imaging studies like X-ray or bone scan can help in diagnosing the case with joint pain. Psoriasis is often confused with diaper dermatitis, seborrhoeic dermatitis and fungal infection of skin and nails.
Psoriasis usually grows worse with suppressing steroid drugs. So never use steroid drugs. The entire outburst may reflect inwards to involve every part of the body when suppressed. Usually, everyone knows diabetes can affect every part of the body except hair, teeth and nails. But psoriasis can affect these too. In the case of nail being affected, it may end up in loss of nails. If treatment is followed with patience, then psoriasis will remain only a skin disorder and make life with the disease better. The anxiety of the sufferer also makes his/her health deteriorate further. Anxiety, stress will make psoriasis worse. Be happy so you can live better without complications.
In neglected or maltreatment cases, psoriasis can involve joints, liver, kidneys, bones, etc. Sometimes the raw skin surface, which peels off, attracts infection with scratching, which may lead to painful blisters. Other than disease complications, drug diseases or complications on using steroids also occur in many cases with ulcer, cirrhosis, kidney failures, neutropaenia, neoplasia, etc. Many patients try out drugs even without the doctor’s advice. Drug cocktails can be harmful. Also, the disease grows worse with wrong drugs.
Prevention – Diet cures better than a doctor. To overcome the tide of suffering, avoid aggravating factors:
Say ‘NO’ to smoking, alcohol, fast foods, sour foods & hot sun
DON’T scratch or peel to avoid infection
AVOID stress and unnecessary medicines
GO with Nature in your style of living and eating food
USE moisturiser or liquid paraffin to avoid dryness of skin.
General treatment – There is no known specific treatment for psoriasis. The drug most effective in one case may be totally ineffective in another i.e., no drug is capable of smart work in every case. Also, since most of oral drugs are hepato (liver) toxic, everyone concentrates on a variety of external applications like petroleum jelly, liquid paraffin, tar ointment, psoralen (photosensitive drug), salicylic acid, steroid ointment, etc., to care for skin dryness and infection. UV rays are also often used to control psoriasis. In a good number of cases, a moisturiser itself will help. But in cases of a progressive disease, internal drugs may be needed. The rebound of complaints is often noticed in stoppage of external applications or internal drugs. Psychological support must be given explaining the possibility of living better with psoriasis with hope.
Recurrences and remissions are very common in the treatment of psoriasis as every tide has its ebb. Nobody can claim complete cure, since it can recur after 5-6 years or even more than that. So everyone must be prepared for a longer remission period. No system can calm all the cases, as ‘No one can please everybody’.
Fearing spread of psoriasis will kill more than the disease. The greatest joy for psoriasis patients is the disappearance of the rashes. The disappearance of the itch/scaly skin itself doesn’t mean the disease is waning, i.e., skin rash can be easily made to disappear with steroidal external applications which will usually mask the complaint. Likewise, suppressive immune therapy with steroid drugs will also mask the complaint, but very temporarily. Allopathic way of approach is usually against causative factor or disease. In psoriasis, since the causative factor has not been identified, the treatment is aimed at temporary management with medications and external applications. But, Homeopathy treats the symptoms of patients, ratherthan the diseases or its effects.
Excellent results for one patient may have very little or no effect in another. This will make the patient feel frustrated, since he might have been referred by a patient who got better by going to the same doctor or by using the same medicines. It depends upon the patient’s symptom. Homeopathy improves the general condition of the patient to create an environment which is not favourable for the disease. Also in other systems, the medicine is selected to stop proliferation of epidermis or infection. But Homeopathy aims at saving/making the skin healthy so that there won’t be any need of production or proliferation of skin cells. It means that, if there is a need, there will be excessive production. If there is no need, automatically, excessive exfoliation or scaling gets reduced.
Psoriasis is supposed to be a constitutional disease, so treating locally with external applications will not give any long-lasting relief. The healing secrets are treating the condition constitutionally, internally and generally. Patience and gentleness have the greatest power of healing. An array of medicines/applications will not cure the complaint if they are not selected constitutionally. Betterment/cure may be surely claimed if the treatment is started early or immediately after the complaint begins.
Homeopathic treatment should be followed for two winter seasons. Right treatment means improvement in the physical and mental state. Unlike other systems of medicines which are toxic during continuous usage, drugs used in Homeopathy are safe and offer betterment by enhancing the energy to expel psoriasis without any side-effects. Discover health and happiness with peace of mind and proper treatment.
Homeopathic medicines commonly used in cases of psoriasis are Ars alb, Arg Nit, Baryta mur, Corralium, Crab apple, Hydrocotyle, Kali ars, Kali Brom, Lycopodium, Nat sulp, Phosphorus, Psoralea, Psorinum, Pulsatilla, Radium Brom, Sulphur, Sulphur Iod, Syphilinum, Silicea, Thuja, Thyroidinum, Urtica urens, etc. These Medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a qualified Homeopath.
Dr. S. Chidambaranathan, BHMS, MD (Homeo)
24 E. New Mahalipatti Road
Tel: +91-452-233-8833 | +91-984-319-1011 (Mob)
(Disclaimer - The contents of this column are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of healthcare professional for any health problem or medical condition.)