Psoriasis is a dry skin condition that can result in flaking skin on the body and scalp. I have suffered from the auto immune disease for nearly 10 years now. In my last post I described my current routine for cleansing my hair and scalp. In my case, the psoriasis also shows up on my skin in little flaky patches that can leave unsightly scars. Each year, I do my best to keep the dry patches to a minimum by changing my diet and taking supplements. I am finally discussing it here on the blog in hopes that my experience may help others.
Initially I sought treatment from a dermatologist who prescribed steroid creams for my skin and scalp. They only made my condition worse. After prolonged use, the flaky dry skin, known as psoriasis plaques, spread out over about eighty percent of my body. It was very embarrassing and disheartening. I also got headaches every time I used the prescription scalp ointment. This made me question the drug based treatments and I decided to search for a more natural approach. I picked up a book at my local library called, The Psoriasis Cure, by Lisa LeVan. In it, I found information on my condition as well as a long list of vitamins and supplements. It also suggested that I follow a healthy diet and a regular exercise & sleep routine. After going the medical route for long enough, I thought it was worth a try. I followed the routine outlined in the book and was surprised to see signs of my psoriasis clearing up after only three weeks. This method was very helpful but I made some changes over the years. Here are some things that work for me.
Since Psoriasis is an auto immune disease I find that a healthy digestive system is the key to my success. The digestive tract makes up around 70% of the immune system. When this area of the body is working properly it shows through our hair, skin and nails. I use probiotics, increased hydration and foods rich in fiber to help in this area. My current choice for a probiotic boost is a fruit juice called, Good Belly. Otherwise, yogurt or probiotic capsules work as well. For fiber I reach for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Whole Body Cleanse
This step is prescribed in the book so initially I purchased a cleanse kit that wound up being too harsh for my system. Since then, I have used healthy green juices to detox my body. Drinking juice from green vegetables helps to cleanse the body of toxins while also delivering much needed vitamins. Green juices work best when consumed on an empty stomach because then the body can quickly absorb all of that green goodness.
It turns out I was not getting enough vitamin D and Omega 3’s. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to bouts with psoriasis. Vitamin D is something that the body produces through sun exposure which can be harder to come by during the fall and winter months. That is why my psoriasis shows up around this time of year because my body is not making enough vitamin D on its own. Also, people with darker skin or who use sunscreen are potentially not getting enough of this important vitamin. I take around 4000 IU with food each day and have noticed much improvement in my skin and scalp. Omega 3 vitamins are anti-inflammatory and promote healthy hair, skin and nails. I take fish oil capsules to supplement for this. I also take a vegetable based multi-vitamin for women for all of the other vitamins I need.
Lower Sugar Intake
Psoriasis is inflammation of the skin. Through my own research I found that sugar is highly inflammatory. In my case, cutting back on sugar made a difference in my skin. I’m not just talking sweets though. Other foods that convert quickly into sugar like wheat based products (i.e. bread, pasta etc.) are also culprits. Once I went wheat free for six weeks and noticed my skin was much clearer. That’s a hard one for me though so I try to at least limit my sugar intake by making healthy substitutions (wheat bread instead of white or no bread at all) and eating more clean foods like fruits and vegetables.
Sleep and Exercise
I can’t forget this important part. Some of what my body is going through is just that I sometimes don’t get enough sleep and exercise. The more you exercise, the more restful sleep so the two work together. This can also help with stress relief.
Disclaimer: I am not a physician and do not have a medical background. The aim of this post is to share my experience. Please seek advice from your physician before taking any supplements or making changes to your physical health routine and/or diet.
Green Smoothie with Kale, Apple, Cucumber and Banana
This year I’ve been learning lots about the importance of eating a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables. I even found out a thing or two about juicing and how beneficial it can be. Still, it took my upcoming summer vacation to finally get me motivated to lose some weight. I’ve been telling myself how great it would feel if I could just lose the 7-10 lbs. that have been keeping me from looking my best. There are all sorts of reasons why I fell off of the exercise wagon so I’ll save the long story. Thankfully my diet only needs a few tweeks here and there because my family and I eat pretty healthy.
After watching the movie, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” earlier this year, I decided to start juicing more. At first, there was a bit of a learning curve but I’m used to it now and can whip up a glass of juice for breakfast with no extra fuss. I’m happy to say that it helped with my psoriasis which was crazy out of control for most of the winter. One of my favorites is a green smoothie with Kale, Cucumber, Apple and Banana.
Now that my skin is looking better, I’ve been trying to exercise more in hopes of losing a little extra cushion around the middle and thighs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful that I’ve been around the same size for years. It would be nice though to not have to rely so much on help from shaperwear when it’s time to dress up. Plus, I want to have more energy to help me get through these long summer days with the kids.
As for my hair, I’m hoping that the cardio and strength workouts will lead to a faster metabolism. This in turn can lead to faster hair growth (maybe). So for now the Wash n’ Go hairstyle is super easy for me. Since I use a heavy gel product like Eco Styler, I can just wet my hair in the shower to reactivate my style. Co-washing is also pretty easy because it removes most of the product without stripping my hair or causing my curls to go into shock. Sometimes I even use a light oil on my hair either in the shower or right after to seal in the moisture and combat dryness. The wash n’ go style is so much easier now and great for the summer.
I am pretty happy with my hair recently and am feeling like things are getting back to normal. By that I mean I was having some issues with dry, flaky scalp followed up by a month or two with heavy shedding. Both issues are finally getting under control so I have been uploading to my YouTube channel more often with hair tutorials. Before now though it was so frustrating to do anything with my hair because I almost felt like there was no point. The flakes made it look so bad that I didn’t even want to go out some days.
One of the things that I think helped was that I started working on my immune system to help get my skin under control. I have psoriasis and I have known for a while now that the inflammation in my skin is because of something not quite right with my immune system. When the psoriasis flared up I started introducing probiotics into my system by eating a serving of Activia yogurt each day. This helped with digestion and made it possible for my body to absorb my supplements better. After doing that for 2-3 weeks I decided to go back to a more effective multi-vitamin formulated for women. It costs more but has proved to be much better for my body than the usual store brands.
I also added some supplements to my daily routine like garlic, super B-Complex and vitamin E. The garlic helped with the shedding and didn’t start working right away but I can tell that I am shedding fewer hairs per wash session now. I would say it took about a 3-4 weeks before it started to make a difference. The B-Complex contains biotin and I can see that it is helping my nails so hopefully it’s doing something for my hair as well. The Vitamin E is a given because it’s known for being good for the skin. I usually try to take my multi-vitamin on its own and then the other supplements together at another time during the day. Both times are with a meal. I also started drinking Green Tea for the antioxidants and increased my daily water intake.
With the Colorado climate being especially dry right now, I hope that this regimen will get me through the winter without having anymore problems. For now, I’m using shea butter to moisturize my skin and staying away from heavy oils on my scalp to avoid build-up. I’ve also started doing more finger detangling instead of using a tool to get rid of shed hairs.
NOTE: As with anything health related be sure and speak with a physician when considering adding vitamins and supplements to your daily routine