What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis occurs when the skin cells replace themselves too quickly. It usually takes up to 28 days for newly formed skin cells to rise to the surface of the skin and separate from healthy tissue, but in psoriasis it takes just two to six days.
As underlying cells reach the skin's surface and die, their sheer volume causes raised, red plaques covered with silver-white scales. Frequently appearing in cycles of flare and remission, psoriatic flare-ups often cause considerable itching. There are many different types, but the most common is chronic plaque psoriasis.
Psoriasis usually appears as red, scaly, crusty patches that reveal fine silvery scales when scratched. These patches may itch and feel uncomfortable. Psoriasis is most common on the knees, elbows, scalp and around the joints where the skin creases, but can appear anywhere on the body. In some forms the nails or joints are affected.
The condition is chronic, lasting for many years. Most people have periods when symptoms are minimal or the skin is normal but then it flares up again. The impact on a person varies – for some it is no more than a mild irritation while others with psoriasis become withdrawn and don't socialize or form relationships because of the way people react to the appearance of their skin.
What causes it?
Although the exact cause is not known, Many things are thought to trigger the condition, including a skin injury, sore throat or chest infections, certain drug treatments, sunburn and stress. Psoriasis often runs in families (but can skip a generation) and several genes have been linked to the condition. It’s important to point out that it isn't contagious or caused by poor hygiene. Aside from the possibility of a genetic susceptibility, most doctors believe that psoriasis involves the immune system. In addition, the following factors may contribute to psoriasis development, worsening or flare-ups:
· Cold, dry weather
· Skin injury
· Stress and anxiety
· Certain medications
Who can it affect?
About two per cent of the UK population have psoriasis, and men and women are equally affected.
The condition can occur at any age, but it mostly occurs between the ages of ten and 40, often during puberty. It affects up to one in 50 children, but it's rarely seen in children under two years old. Every year roughly 20,000 children under the age of 10 are diagnosed with psoriasis, but is often misdiagnosed. This is due to being confused with other skin diseases with similarities to psoriasis.
A type called ‘Guttate Psoriasis’ is common in children and often follows an upper respiratory infection. It produces small, raindrop-like patches across the upper body and limbs that last a few months.
Massage is fine for people with psoriasis, except in the acute stages (first 2-3 months of the condition developing). During this time, massage is not recommended directly on the lesions or patches of red skin. As a Local contra-indication, this means that we can provide a massage treatment, as long as we avoid the areas of irritation. Massage is known to reduce stress, which can cause outbreaks of psoriasis. Massage may reduce the incidences of psoriasis by reducing the internal and external factors which contribute to outbreaks.
Psoriasis is unpleasant and looks painful. Fortunately, while it looks bad it is not always as painful as it looks. Psoriasis comes and goes, and often stress can cause an outbreak. Fortunately, massage can not only help prevent an outbreak, but can also help make life with psoriasis more comfortable.
Be careful to avoid any cracks in the skin, as these could lead to infections. If the skin is dry, moisturizing lubricant or lotion is recommended to help nourish the skin. Do not attempt to scrape the dead skin off; let it shed naturally. Also, as psoriasis is not contagious, you do not need to wear protective latex gloves when massaging someone with psoriasis.
Quote from a psoriasis sufferer. . . taken from a general discussion at www.dailystrength.org
“I noticed no one responded about massage so I thought I would be the first to bring this topic back to light. I think massage does a tremendous deal of help for psoriasis sufferer's. It relaxes us and is truly the only time we feel somewhat comfortable with our skin in the presence of another person. Granted..the first couple of times to a therapist are awkward and have a lot of explaining to do, but once you get past this it does help. Make sure the therapists are using a massage oil to hydrate the dry skin. Some that have worked well for my husband and myself are almond oil and grape seed oil by Aura Cacia. These do not have any alcohol in them and you can add a couple of drops of lavender or other natural aura cacia scents to it. Also, if you are hesitant to see a therapist, you can buy the oil and essences... Have a close friend or significant other perform the massage.”
This is a short video about young boy and his family. The young boy sufferers from psoriasis and this video shows how difficult it can be for both the sufferers and the family.