Psoriasis: Symptoms, causes, types and Ayurveda treatment

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Skin diseases are so common these days. Some exist because of lifestyle, some as a result of drug reactions and some may have a genetic cause. But any one of these three may become cause for Psoriasis. this article is focused on Psoriasis symptoms, Psoriasis cause, Psoriasis types and Psoriasis Ayurveda treatment.

Psoriasis is originated from Greek word “Psora” that means “itch”.Psoriasis is a common skin disease. As many as 125 million people worldwide and over 10 million people in India are diagnosed with psoriasis each year. People falling between 15-35 years of age group are most affected with psoriasis.

What type of skin disease is psoriasis? 

Psoriasis, is a long term (chronic) skin disease. It is often characterized as auto-immune disease. Auto-immune is a disease in which body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks itself. 

It is characterised by patches on the skin that are often bumped,rough,red and have scaly-stacked appearance.

What type of scally appearance and why they appear?

The meteoric process of skin production leads to psoriasis. In psoriasis, skin grows 10 times faster than normal. This excessive and rapid growth of skin cells is the cause of skin’s scaly appearance.

You must be questioning,why? Well in our body skin cells grow deep inside the skin. They slowly come up to the surface and eventually fall off. This cycle is normally completed in 1 month. Whereas in the case of  psoriasis this process may take only few days.

As the result skin cell remain adhered to the surface because they don’t get enough time to fall off. The ‘overabundance’ of skin cells leads to the formation of a pile over the surface and gives the ‘scaly’ appearance.

What are the areas affected by psoriasis? 

Scales may grow anywhere in the body, but the most affected parts are :

treatment of Psoriasis
  • Scalp
  • Face
  • Neck
  • Hands
  • Feet

Areas that are less affected are:

  • Mouth
  • Nails
  • Groin (area around genitalia)

Types of Psoriasis :

This skin disease can be characterized into 5 different type:

Types of Psoriasis

Type 1 : Plaque psoriasis (Most common)

AppearanceThe patches may vary from few to many. Dry, raised, red skin patches covered by silvery scale.

so, You may experience itchiness and tenderness.

Areas affected usually affects elbows, knee, scalp and lower back.

According to configuration plaque psoriasis can be further classified into 3 categories:

  1. Psoriasis gyrata – that predominates curved linear patterns.
  2. Annular psoriasis –Ring like lesions developed secondary to central cleaning.
  3. Psoriasis follicularis– characterized by minute scaly papules.

Type 2 : Guttatepsoriasis (Most common in children)

  • Appearance- small, drop-shaped pink spots.
  • Areas affected – arms, legs and trunk ( main part of body extending from neck to groin excluding limbs)

Type 3 : Inverse psoriasis (Fungal infections are it’s trigger)

  • Appearance – smooth, bright, inflammed red skin patches that may worsen with friction and sweating.
  • Areas affected – armpits, breasts, groin and buttocks.

Type 4 : Pustular psoriasis (Most common in adult)

  • Appearance – clearly defined pus filled blisters, can also be widespread.
  • Areas affected –palms and soles.

Type 5 : Erythrodermicpsoriasis (Severe, very rare but life threatening)

  • Appearance – skin appears sunburned, scales often slough off in large sheets.
  • Areas affected –can cover your whole body, with itchiness and burning sensation.

Sign and symptoms of Psoriasis :

Sign and symptoms of psoriasis may vary from person to person depending upon the type of psoriasis and age group.

symptoms of Psoriasis and causes of Psoriasis
image source webmed
  • Symptoms of Dry itch skin with cracks, which may bleed too.
  • Red skin patches covered with thick silvery scales.
  • Soreness, itching and burning sensation around patches.
  • Pitted, thick or ridged nails.
  • Swollen, painful, stiff joints.

Any of these symptoms may stay for few days and then may clear up unnoticeably. But after few days or weeks symptoms may appear again.The reason may be psoriasis triggers.

Triggers of psoriasis :

  • Infections- like strep throat or skin infections.
  • Injuries- like cut, insect bite or severe sun burn.
  • Weather- especially cold and dry
  • Lifestyle- stress, heavy alcohol consumption, smoking.
  • Medications- like antimalarial drugs, high blood pressure drugs and many more.
  • Withdrawal- of oral or systemic corticosteroid.

However, sometimes symptoms of psoriasis disappear completely and you may have no active signs of the same. This is known as remission, which means you are symptom free. But don’t be carefree, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have psoriasis again.

Symptoms range from mild to severe. They are present differently according to type of psoriasis. According to National Psoriasis Foundation:

Mild psoriasis covers less than 3%

Moderate psoriasis covers 3-10%

Severe psoriasis covers in excess of 10% body.

What causes psoriasis?

The exact cause is still a matter of research. However, genetic and immune system are two factors which are considered as cause.

Genetic factor :

It means you can inherit psoriasis from your ancestors. That is if someone in your family tree had psoriasis, then there is a chance that you too may develop it. But according to National Psoriasis Foundation only 2-3 % of people genetically develop this ailment.

Immune System :

Immune system guards your body from infection and diseases. White blood cells (W.B.C) also known as T-cells prevent us from falling sick. They attack on harmful bacteria, viruses and other pathogens and thus protect us from diseases. 

When psoriasis occurs, the T-cells mistakenly start attacking body skin cells. This process of mistakenly attacking body is known as autoimmunity. Because of this, body makes new cells more often. Excess cells don’t wither away but pile up causing psoriasis.

Is it Contagious?

After knowing all this, if you are scared to touch anyone who is suffering from psoriasis;then you must not be scared. Psoriasis is non-communicable (non- contagious) disease.

In other words, it will not spread through touch. So never distance yourself from the person who is suffering from psoriasis 

But Keep in mind :

  • Not spread through touch.
  • It will not spread through swimming in same pool or water
  • Not spread through physical contact.

Complications of Psoriasis :

  • Rheumatic arthritis- causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in and around the joints.
  • Affect on mental health–low self esteem and depression.
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Other auto immune diseases like celiac disease, sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Increased Blood Pressure 

Treatments for Psoriasis :

Psoriasis is incurable. Treatments can reduce symptoms ,ease pain, reduce inflammation, scales and slow the excessive cell growth the skin.

Modern treatments available :

  • Tropical therapy
  • Light therapy
  • Oral
  • injected medications

Tropical therapy :

  • Salicylic Acid-  Available in shampoo and scalp solutions. Helps in reducing scaling of scalp psoriasis.
  • Corticosteroids-Most frequently used. Available as ointments, sprays, gels creams.
  • Retinoids- They reduce skin cell production. Most commonly used is Tazarotene.

further Side effects: hair loss, inflammation, skin irritation, increased sensitivity to light.

  •  Vitamin D analogues-  These are synthetic form of Vitamin D which slow the growth of skin. It can be used alone or with tropic corticosteroids.
  • Calcineurininhibitors – Reduce inflammation and heap (plaque) buildup.

Caution: 

  1. it should not be used during pregnancy and breast feeding
  2. Should not be used for long term as they increase the risk of skin cancer and lymphoma.

Coal tar :

Reduces scaling , itching and inflammation. Are available in form of cream, oil and many more forms.

Caution: 

  • Should not be used during pregnancy and breast feeding.

Light therapy :

It is the first line treatment for moderate to severe psoriasis. Therapy can be given alone or in combination with other medicines. This therapy uses UV rays. In this, affected skin is exposed to controlled amount of natural or artificial light. The over reactive W.B.C that attack healthy skin cell and cause rapid cell growth are killed by sunlight or artificial light. 

Oral and injected medicines :

  • Biologics – These usually include administration by injection. Biologics alter immune system by preventing interaction between immune system and inflammatory pathways.

Drawbacks: are expensive, may or may not be covered by health insurance plans. As they alter immune system there is high risk of getting serious infections.

  • Cyclosporine- Taken orally. It also suppresses immune system.

Caution : Should not be recommended during pregnancy and breast feeding

Drawback: Increases risk of cancer, kidney problems and blood pressure.

  • Steroid- In case if you have few small, persistent psoriasis patches, doctor might suggest an injection right into the lesions.

Psoriasis : An Ayurvedic View

it is classified under ‘Kushtha’ a skin disease mentioned in Ayurvedic texts. It occurs due to imbalance in three doshas- Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Doshas when stable form the body. When are disturbed, they cause a disease. They can cause disease alone (alone vata, alone pitta or alone kapha) or together (vata,pitta, kapha like in psoriasis)

 Let’s have a quick look at what role these doshas play in psoriasis

Vata : When stable it controls body functions like respiration, excretion and many more. It’s properties include dryness and roughness.

In psoriasis, it is responsible for causing dryness and scaling of skin.

Pitta : When stable, it controls the heat of body and stomach (jatharagni). It’s properties include heat, burning.

In psoriasis, it is responsible for causing redness, inflammation and burning sensation.

Kapha : When stable, it provides body stability, patience energy and many more things to body. It’s properties include coldness, heaviness, roughness and many more.

In psoriasis, it is responsible for causing whitish silvery appearance, itching, and thickning of skin.

Some often relate Psoriasis with ‘Kitabha’ and ‘Ekkusth’ (diseases among 12types of skin diseases mentioned by Charaka. [Ref: Charaksamhita chi 7/21,22] )

Kitibh :is described as a skin disease which is blackish red in colour and is rough to touch.

Kitibh can be compared with Inverse psoriasis as it posses bright red inflamed patches.

Ekkushth : is described as a skin disease which covers large area, have fish like scales and have no sweat. 

Ekkushth can be compared with Erythrodermic psoriasis as in it scales wither away in large sheets. There are patches that are often covered witch silvery scales.

Cause of Psoriasis or Kushtha according to Ayurveda

It occurs due:

  • Virrudhaaahara ( eating foods together that are wrong in combination like fish and dairy products)
  • Retention of natural urges like urine, vomiting and many more.
  • Doing physical exercise in excess of warm climate.
  • Intake of cold water immediately after exposure to scorching sunlight.
  • Intake of uncooked foods or eating food before the previous one is digested.
  • Irregular lifestyle like improper hygiene 
Is it curable in accordance with Ayurveda?

In Ayurvedic texts, kushth is mentioned as krucchasadhyavyadhi(that means a disease which is cured with difficulty ) and aasadhyavyadhi( disease which is incurable)

However it is further mentioned ( Ref: Charaksamhita Chi 7/38) :

  • Kushth with predominance of VataKapha or only one dosha is curable( sadhyya)
  • Kusth with predominance of Vata- Pitta or Kapha- Pitta are intractable(krucchasadhya). That means is difficult to cure.

Ayurvedic treatments helps in relieving symptoms and easing pain

Ayurveda treatment :

Ayurveda treatments are based on balancing the doshas. Doshas can be balanced by:

  • Detoxifying the body
  • Using herbs and Ayurvedic medicines
  • Maintaining diet 
  • Improving lifestyle
  • Through meditation and yoga

1. Detoxification Treatment

In Ayurveda, Panchkarma is considered the best way for detoxifying the body. Panchakarma focuses on removing aama( toxins) from body. When any  disease occur Vata, pitta, kapha undergo aggravation or disarrangement. Disarrangement of these affects agni ( gastric fire) and produces aama( toxins).

This aama enters blood stream and is circulated throughout whole body. Aama blocks the channels in body and results in disease. So, every disease is caused by aama. To remove aama 5 things known as Panchkarma are done.(Ref: Shushruta Samhita)It consists of-

  • Vaman
  • Virechan
  • Vasti
  • Nasya
  • Raktmokshan

Before these purvakarma(pre purification measurements) is done.Purvakarma prepares the body for purification. It includes two process:

  • Snehan(Oil massage)
  • Swedan (Sweating or sudation)

Snehan liquefies the toxins and increases the movement of toxin in gastrointestinal tract (GIT). It also make superficial and deep tissues soft thus,help to remove stress and nourish them.

Swedan liquifies toxins and increases the movement of toxins towards GIT.

After that, these two procedures 5 karma’s are done. Let’s see what are their benefits.

Vaman– It is a therapeutic vomiting, done by oral intake of medicinal preparation. Vaman helps in stabilising aggravated kapha dhosa and dislodges toxins from body. In psoriasis, kapha is imbalanced vaman therapy helps.

Moreover, it is a good treatment for chronic skin diseases like psorasis.

Virechan- It also removes toxin from blood and purifies the blood. It is mainly indicated to regulate pitta and this helps in digestion and metabolism.

Vasti- It is recommended as purification therapy for Vata.

The above three help in stabilizing dosha which in turn benefits in psoriasis.

NasyaInhalation of medicated oil through nostrils is known as nasya. It also eliminates toxins.

In psoriasis,(Kushtha) nasya of powdered Tulsi seeds, peppercorns along with other herbs can be given ( Ref: Charaksamhita : 7/48)

Raktamokshan- It is also known as blood letting. Toxins present in blood are removed by a cut made over the affected part. Specialized instruments  are used in raktamokshan.

In some cases leech therapy is also used. 

2. Ayurvedic herbs and medicines 

  • For local application – kalk ( paste prespared from fresh herbs), herbal oils, abhangya( herbal massage) can be done.

Paste

  • Cascabela thevetia‘s roots( commonly known as kaner कनेर)
  • Cassia fistula’s leaves (commonly known as amaltas)
  • Flowers of Gossypium herbaceum(commonly known as kapaas)

Herbal oils

Pomgame oil tree (commonly known as karanj) and mustard oil can be applied to the affected area.

Gel 

Aloevera gel can be applied too. It relieves from itching and scaling.

Abhangya(Massaging) :

Olive oil can be applied directly or can be added in bath. It eases dryness and itching.

For oral use :

  • Neem (Azadirachta indica) to purify blood
  • Aloevera juice,Blacknightshade juice and Guggul(Commiphora vightii), helps in reducing symptoms of skin inflammation in psoriasis.
  • Ashwagandha is beneficial in subsiding stress and acts as restorative tonic. 

3. Maintaining Diet 

  • Avoid food with high carbs and fats.
  • Avoiding food that are ‘in the extreme’ like too salty, too acidic.
  • keep distancing foods like red meat, refined sugar, processed food and dairy products.
  • Avoiding foods that cause indigestion 
  • Don’t take viruddhaahara( food with wrong combination)
  • Reddish, urad dal, sesame, curd, fish and other foods should not be consumed.

4. Healthy lifestyle 

  • Avoid alcohol and smoking.
  • Try not to prick, peel or scratch skin. Itch when you need, not when you want.
  • Avoid using cleanser as it dries up your skin. You can use besan instead.
  • After long walk or travel wait till your sweat dries up. Then take bath.
  • Apply herbal moisturizer , gel or cream to prevent skin from drying.
  • Do not rub the affected area too much with towel.

5. Meditation and Yoga

As you know stress triggers psoriasis. It can also induce inflammation too. Further, inflammation can aggravate psoriasis by flaring it up or worsening the one already in process.

Yoga and meditation act as best stress buster. Yoga also helps in smooth blood circulation across your body. It helps to inflate lungs with pure air.

For countering psoriasis symptoms you can:

  • Meditate
  • Deep breathing 
  • Yogaasana

Meditation Padmasana is the pose for meditation. You can meditate in anjali mudra, bhairvi mudra, gyan mudra and many more.

Lets discuss about Padmasana and mudras.

  • Padmasana – In this pose you sit crossed legged on floor with your back straight. 
  • Anjali mudra or Salutation seal – folding your hands in prayer position.
  • Bhairvi mudra-  Placing your hands such that the dorsal part of one hand is in contact with palmar part of the other.
  • Gyan mudra – touching your thumb’s tip with tip of ring finger is known as gyan mudra.

How to meditate?

  • Sit in padmasana. (find quiet place)
  • Place your hands in any of the mudras.
  • Close your eyes, breathe, imagine a light in your heart. A light that is spreading down in the ground, up in the sky.

“ Focus your attention on your heart and then see yourself enormously beautiful, wonderful and mysterious that are there.” – Daaji ( Heartfulness, sahajmarg)

Controlled breathing or Pranayama 

It is a good start for beginners. Above all, This improves lungs and blood circulation.

Steps:

  • Find a quiet place so that you can practise uninterrupted.
  • Sit on the floor in padmasana.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply till your lungs are filled with fresh air. Do this as per your comfort.
  • Hold your breathe for few seconds. Exhale slowly.
  • Repeat this for atleast 10 minutes.

Yogaasana For relaxation you can do child pose. It is the easiest one.

As a result you can yourself conclude that psoriasis can’t be fully treated.

Proper diet and hygiene can help you.

Ayurveda is better than modern treatments. In this modern treatment may relax you at first but they will surely come up with another disease later.

Whereas, ayurvedic treatment has negligible side effects. They also help you in living a healthy, positive and disease free life.

In conclusion, Hope you liked this article to clarify Psoriasis symptoms, Psoriasis cause, Psoriasis types and Psoriasis Ayurveda treatment. Comment your feedback, suggestion and Query related to Psoriasis !

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  1. Gaurav Yadav July 23, 2020
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