A common inflammatory skin condition characterized by frequent episodes of redness, itching, and thick, dry, silvery scales (mine is more of a yellow crust) on the skin. It also can cause joint pain. It hits about 8 out of every 10000, appears to be genetic and occurs more in Caucasians (white folk). It fucking sucks. It normally hits between the ages of 15 and 35 and seems to be progressive. If it gets really bad, like if your whole body is covered, you have to go to the hospital. The body loses vast quantities of fluid and is susceptible to severe secondary infections that can become systemic, involving internal organs, and can progress to septic shock and death. Treatment includes analgesics, sedation, intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

This is not what happens to most people. Most people just use tar shampoo and the occasional topical cortisone or other corticosteroid flavoured treatment. Another terrible thing is that it can greatly increase your chances of skin cancer and cortisone is linked to a few cancers itself. This condition is all over the map person to person when it comes to symptoms. I've had it since I was 15 and have seen it maybe twice other then on my scalp, until I was 25, when it appeared in my ears and on my torso.

An affliction which first showed up when I was about 12. It consists of dry, scaly skin on my elbows and head. It is itchy at times, but looks far worse than it is. Highly embarrassing when you are in meetings and your suit shoulders are covered in white "dandruff", or when meeting a girl, and it snows when you move your head.

There are a huge range of wives tales and supposed remedies, most of which I have tried, but there is no cure to date. Some of the treatments I have tried:

  • coal-tar soaps and shampoos - leave you smelling like a festering oil slick
  • eating proteins and carbohydrates 4 hours apart - this means eat your meat now and your spuds, rice and/or bread in four hours time, not together
  • A tablespoon of malt vinegar every 2 hours
  • massive doses of vitamin B - my pee was so yellow it damn-near glowed in the dark
  • cod-liver oil - bleeeech!
  • dandruff shampoo - just dries your scalp out more
  • One thing that I have found causes flare-ups more than anything is stress. I have tried to go without stress in my day, but this has the unfortunate side effect of - oh, I just don't give a fuck.

    Another contributor is alcohol, which also makes it quite bad for the next week.

    I have tried no treatments at all - and this just made it worse. One time I decided to obliterate it entirely, and used this ointment that the doctor gave me. It is like Vaseline, so you can imagine what that is like to apply to a hairy head. Anyway I smothered any spot on my body with this gunk every couple of hours for 3 days. The bloody spots appeared all over my face - just in time for my birthday! I gave up, and let it do its thing.

    Today, I just keep it in check. If it gets too bad, and dries out and starts cracking, I put on some of my magic ointment, but really just let it devour my body slowly.

    Being a condition which is only ever treated, rather than cured, psoriasis is particularly prone to natural, alternative and complementary remedies.

    In terms of herbal remedies, there is an emphasis on 'blood-cleaning' herbs. In practice, this means herbs that are supposed to improve the function of the kidneys and liver. I'm not sure why this should be, but there according to Chinese herbal theory, psoriasis is due to excess 'Heat' in the blood. The Readers Digest Guide to Alternative Medicine recommends infusions of dandelion root, burdock and red clover. According to Mrs. Maud Grieve (in 'A Modern Herbal', burdock purifies the blood, while dandelion root improves the action of the liver and kidneys. Red clover is more commonly used for cancerous growths; presumably, because psoriasis and tumours are caused by the same mechanism (cells multiplying way too fast), the same remedy would help both. Jaques Veissid, in 'Folk Remedies', recommends drinking a stinging nettle decotion (no, it won't sting you) four times daily and applying it to the affected areas morning and night. According to Mrs. Grieve, stinging nettles are good for the kidneys and are an all-round Good Thing. Veissid also suggests drinking a walnut leaf infusion four times daily (NOT a good idea if you suffer from a nut allergy), while Mrs. Grieve talks about walnut leaf's "curative effect on eczema and other skin diseases".

    As far as hydrotherapy goes, Readers Digest Natural Remedies (from their Health and healing the natural way series) and Veissid both agree that bathing in salt water can be useful. I remember reading somewhere that the Dead Sea water (which contains stupid amounts of salt) can help skin problems, so this makes sense. Besides anything else, salt is an antiseptic, so it won't do any damage.

    Bach flower remedies focus on emotional problems, and so do not offer a practical way to get rid of the condition. However, the Readers Digest Guide to Alternative Medicine recommends crab apple for disgust or shame and willow for resentment of the condition. It also claims that impatiens or rescue remedy, applied externally, will relieve itching.

    Aromatherapy suggests using bergamot or lavender in the bath or as a lotion. A white lotion base is recommended if the psoriasis is not too dry or flaky, but if it is very scaly, a vegetable oil may be better, and sandalwood essential oil may be used.

    In general, sunlight and Ultraviolet light are widely considered beneficial (but use sunscreen: pointless getting rid of your psoriasis if you end up with skin cancer). Excessive alcohol should also be avoided; one study showed that young men who drank to excess were more likely to get skin problems. Veissid also recommends an ointment made from soot and lard, but the sheer disgustingness of that suggestion makes me think it might be better to learn to love your scaly bits.

    Pso*ri"a*sis (?), n. [NL., fr. Gr. , fr. psora.] Med. (a)

    The state of being affected with psora.

    [Obs.] (b)

    A cutaneous disease, characterized by imbricated silvery scales, affecting only the superficial layers of the skin.


    © Webster 1913.

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