Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is Your Diet Affecting Your Psoriasis?

While you may be reluctant to accept that your dietary habits play a great role in your psoriasis, a number of studies have shown that changes in dietary habits and practices have beneficial effects on the condition. There are even reports that record accounts of improvement in psoriasis in wartime when food supply was not sufficient to camp prisoners.

If you have noticed, the prevalence of psoriasis is not usually common among Africans. Genetics may be an influencing factor here, but it can also be shown that Africans (except those who have adopted a Western lifestyle) usually consume lower polyunsaturated fatty acids and higher in linoleic acid. The Inuits of the Arctic regions and the Sami peoples of northern Europe have a low prevalence of the disease. These two indigenous groups consume fish oils (omega-3 fatty acids) which help improve psoriasis and a number of other inflammatory diseases.

Weight gain has also been reported to be coupled with the worsening of psoriatic lesions. While you may still be unconvinced that your diet has a direct link to your psoriasis, you cannot avoid the fact that psoriasis is an auto-immune disorder and a number of debilitating diseases have already been linked to psoriasis. Hence, it is only prudent for psoriatic sufferers to maintain a healthy diet in order to manage this chronic condition and to avoid other complications.

While there is no specific diet that can treat your psoriasis, you may want to try out these dietary guidelines:

• Consume a wide variety and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. Raw vegetables (as long as they are clean) are better than cooked ones.
• Choose lean meats, if you're a meat lover.
• Eat fishes high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as sardines, mackerel, and salmon.
• Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
• Avoid, or at least, minimize your consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods.

These are simple, down-to-earth guidelines, yet following them can contribute significantly to your good health and, by consequence, to better skin condition. There is a good number of people who strongly believe that certain types of food will worsen the condition of their skin. If you agree with this idea and you are able to identify which types do damage to your skin, you should seriously consider reducing your intake of these foods or doing away with them altogether.

Photo credit: ConstructionDealMkting (flickr.com)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How to Care for Psoriasis Patients

If a member of your family or one of your friends has psoriasis, then you must have seen the effect of the disease on the sufferer's quality of life. Psoriasis affects not only the persons with the diagnosis, but also the people around them. It is even more painful to see your loved-one slowly avoiding his or her friends and choosing to live in isolation because of the condition.

Below are some of the things that you can do to help your friend or loved-one cope with disease.

Understand the condition. The first thing that you can do is to understand psoriasis. With the advent of the internet, it is now much easier to find information about the condition. Make sure that you have a good idea on how a person acquires the disease, its symptoms and the available psoriasis treatments whether conventional or natural treatments.

Minimize stress in your surroundings. It has already been established that stress triggers the flare-ups of the disease. While it is not possible to completely eradicate stress in the households these days, you can help reduce it. You can ask your loved-one the things that might lessen his or her stress. It might help if you offer to do on some days the chores that the patient usually does. Or, if he or she is not keen to unload the chore, you can ask to swap some heavier duties with a lighter one. Avoid being pushy, however, as it may upset your loved-one. Sympathize, if you wish, but do not patronize.

Ask, don't assume. While your intention of helping your loved-one is good, it is always better to ask his or her needs. Do not try to make assumptions, because what you think might not be what your loved-one wants or needs. Will it be okay to go to the doctor's office with him or her? Does he or she want his or her friends to visit in the house?

Know your own limits. Your loved-one may need all the support he or she can get from his or her family because of the condition. It does not mean, however, that you have to own up all the responsibilities for your loved-one, especially when the latter is already an adult. Your role is to help him or her take care of himself or herself. It is never to make him or her dependent on you.

Make sure you look out for yourself, too. It's not only psoriasis sufferers who become emotionally drained when battling with the condition. Caregivers can feel the same way, too. Hence, you must not forget to take care of yourself and live your own life. Do things that you want to do and give yourself a break sometimes. You would not want to end up worn out with the experience.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How to Choose the Right Psoriasis Doctor

If you have been led to this site by googling the keywords "psoriasis doctors Philippines," then I hope that this article will be of help in your search for the right healthcare professional. Keep in mind that having psoriasis only means that your relationship with your psoriasis doctor is a long-term one. Hence, you would want to work with the right doctor in treating and/or managing your psoriasis.

The Doctor's Field of Specialization
Since psoriasis affects the skin, the first thing that should come to mind is a doctor specializing in skin disorders and their treatments, called a dermatologist. If you don't know any dermatologist in your area, then the Philippine Dermatological Society (PDS) website is a good starting point.

Look for the words Find A Derm on the upper right corner of the PDS website's main page, then click it. You will be brought to the Doctor Locator page. There's a box which allows you to search a dermatologist using a map, or search by name, province, region, city/municipality and address. Regardless of the method you use in searching for a dermatologist in your area, the names, clinic location, and telephone numbers of the members of the PDS will appear on your monitor.

The Doctor's Background and Training
Not all dermatologists are alike, however. While you may be familiar, or want to consult, with the dermatologists whom you always see on television because they are the doctors of your favorite celebrity, they may not be trained for psoriasis treatment. Their training may be more in cosmetic dermatology.

Your best bet would be a doctor whose practice focuses on medical dermatology or immunodermatology. In order not to waste your time in going to the doctor, you may want to call the dermatologists first and inquire whether they are experienced in treating psoriasis. If you know any persons with psoriasis, then you can ask recommendations from them. You may also want to contact Psoriasis Philippines, or ask any of its members, for any dermatologists that they can recommend to you.

If you really want a doctor who thoroughly understands the disease, then a dermatologist who has a fellowship or membership with the National Psoriasis Foundation can be one of the requirements in your choice. These doctors have undergone special and/or extensive training in psoriasis treatment in the United States.

Sympathetic or Empathetic Doctors?
While you want a highly-trained doctor in treating your psoriasis, you would also want a doctor who treats you as a human being. Psoriasis highly affects our self-esteem and self-confidence, and you would only want a doctor who not only sympathizes but also empathizes with you.

You don't need more sympathy, that is, you don't want your doctor to share your suffering. He or she may not be able to help you that way. What you need from your doctor is a humane understanding of what you're going through. Theodore Lipps, the 19th century German psychologist, called it "einfuhlung" (which directly translates into "in-feeling"), which means that a health care professional should thoroughly understand your inner feelings and experiences as a patient and must be able to express that understanding to you.

Studies have shown that doctors who are empathetic are able to strengthen the relationship of trust with their patients. You may later find that this empathetic communication between you and the doctor makes it easier for you to accept the reality of your chronic condition. With acceptance comes the quiet resolve to do something about it. Then, it becomes easier to follow the prescribed treatment program and to proactively manage your psoriasis.

If the first doctor you visit does not have this vital attribute of empathy, try looking around. There must be someone out there: Filipino doctors are much sought after in other countries, not least because they are able to establish empathy with their patients.

Photo credit: caroline_1 (flickr.com)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Will My Heart Go On Even If I Have Psoriasis?

The title of this entry must have made you think about the worldwide hit song of Celine Dion "My Heart Will Go On" from the movie Titanic. This post is neither about the movie nor the song. It has something to do with the link between psoriasis and heart disease. Is that news to you?

A number of studies in the last decade have already shown that psoriasis patients are also found to have or to develop cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure or hypertension, high blood cholesterol level, heart failure, atherosclerosis and diastolic dysfunction. One of the theories postulated is that heart disease like atherosclerosis and psoriasis are both inflammatory conditions. The degree of inflammation in skins with psoriasis can be on a titanic scale, as in severe cases which cover the whole body of the patient.

In a 2005 study at Karolinska Institute in Sweden, it was shown that the risk of dying of heart disease for people in the 40-59 age group is 91 percent higher for those with severe psoriasis. For people over 60 with severe psoriasis, the risk is 37 percent greater. Those with mild to moderate psoriasis cases like me should not be complacent because the chance of developing any of the cardiovascular diseases is still there.

Researchers recommend that psoriasis patients must adopt a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet. The probability of developing cardiovascular disease is substantially minimized when a psoriasis patient practices healthy living.

On the personal note, I remember in early to middle 2008 when I noticed that something was no longer right with my body although my psoriasis at the time was still manageable. During the first half of that year, I put on an additional 20 pounds to my weight at end-2007. I thought that maybe the reason for my weight gain was due to hypothyroidism which can also be seen in some psoriasis patients. And so I went to see a doctor specializing in internal medicine.

After undergoing a series of blood testing, it was found out that I only had the so-called subclinical hypothyroidism. There were other conditions that were diagnosed, however. These were cardiovascular-related diseases — high blood pressure (which soared as high as 140/100 at some point) and also high blood cholesterol level. I vowed to correct these risk factors — and finally got rid of them in a matter of 90 days after the diagnosis. I was also able to shed 40 pounds. From that time up to now, I have maintained my ideal weight. I still want my heart to go on and function well despite my psoriasis.

Photo credit: Mykl Roventine(flickr.com)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Going for a Night Out? Try Covering and Lightening Up Methods

Are you going out for a date? Or, are you invited to attend a party but don't know how to hide those irritating plaques and lesions? Instead of staying at home and licking your wounds for the constraints that our condition has brought us, you might find the following tips helpful in mitigating embarrassment.

Cosmetic Cover-Up
Experts recommend, with caveats, the use of cosmetic products such as masking cream or concealer as cover-up on the face and other affected areas. Not all cosmetic products, however, are helpful for camouflaging the redness of the skin. It does seem that the unsightly redness can be neutralized by creams containing green dye. You may want to ask your dermatologist for recommendations as to the best product that is suitable in your case.

Keep in mind that there are limits in using these cosmetic products. If you have open sores or you develop skin irritation, then you should never use them, or stop using them at once. Some psoriasis sufferers will not benefit from camouflage techniques, however. Severe cases where patches of skin are thick or scaly will not respond adequately to cover-ups. But well-controlled conditions where there are only brownish or slightly reddish spots can be helped quite satisfactorily.

Light Colors and Fabrics
One of the things that embarrasses us the most is when we find out that other people see flakes falling from our hair and sticking onto our tops. Ew… Thus, it is only practical for us to wear light-colored and light-patterned tops. Fabrics, such as silk and cotton, which provide more comfort when we wear them are better than wool, as the fashion guru Tim Gunn of Project Runway recommends. Linens, according to him, may not work as well because the surface texture is rather stubbly, making it slightly uneven and rough.

If cosmetic camouflage does not work, then tell the people who ask about the redness on your skin that you have psoriasis which affects at least one-percent of the Philippine population and up to three-percent of the world population. It is not merely a skin disease, but rather it is an auto-immune condition which runs in families. Assure them it is never contagious. And finally, tell them that they should thank their stars they do not suffer the condition.

Photo credit: Kaunokainen (flickr.com)