Anyone who has ever experienced psoriasis will know how irritating, uncomfortable, painful and sometimes even downright distressing it can be. Sufferers are on a constant quest to track down new products and treatments that might help soothe their skin, while their loved ones look on helplessly or attempt to join in with the mission in a bid to come to their aid.
If you or someone you know is at the end of their tether, it's worth trying a few natural solutions that can alleviate flare-ups - but first, let's go into a little more detail about the condition itself.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis occurs when the usual replacement process affecting the skin speeds up. Instead of cells being replenished every month or so, they die and flake off within just a few days on psoriasis sufferers. It all happens so fast that an abundance of dead cells builds up on the surface of the skin, resulting in raised, itchy red plaques.
They usually appear on the knees, elbows and scalp, but can crop up anywhere on the body. It's estimated that around two or three per cent of Britons have psoriasis and it affects men and women roughly equally.
The exact causes aren't yet fully understood, but we know that the T cells of the immune system are overactive among sufferers and constantly react as though they're trying to heal a wound - although they're unfortunately acting to the person's detriment by over-producing skin.
Patients typically experience flare-ups on a regular basis and they can be triggered by anything from stress to illnesses.
How can flare-ups be soothed?
We know that psoriasis can be utterly debilitating and make you thoroughly miserable, so it's an excellent idea to employ a few simple - and natural - techniques to try and keep on top of it whenever you can.
1. Keep the skin moist
Dryness can trigger irritation, more itching and more flaky patches, so don't let your skin dry out. Apply your prescribed ointments, but also use thick, oil-based lotions as top-ups too - more on this in our 'recommended products' section later. If possible, pat some cream on before bedtime and cover it with a bandage to lock in the moisture before you wash it off the next morning.
2. Take care when bathing
When your skin is sore and sensitive, soothe it with a bath but don't make the water too hot or cold - you're looking for Goldilocks temperatures here. Use oil-based, natural products in the water as opposed to heavily scented bubble baths and pat yourself dry afterwards rather than rub.
3. Think about your diet
It can be difficult to get your five-a-day when you're busy, but eating as much fruit and veg as possible will really benefit your skin, as will eating plenty of omega-3-rich fish and cooking in olive oil. You're effectively moisturising yourself from within when you follow this Mediterranean-style regime so it's well worth trying - and sticking to.
4. Try not to get too stressed
Again, easier said than done, but anxiety does seem to be linked with flare-ups. Try taking time out of your schedule to go for a walk away from your desk at lunchtime, read a book at the end of the day, or even meditate for ten minutes in the mornings. If it works at lowering your blood pressure levels, it could also help your psoriasis.
Products you might like to try
We've got lots of natural products here at Heyland & Whittle and all our soaps are paraben-free too, so they should cause you as little irritation as possible - and hopefully do just the opposite by calming inflammation.
Tea tree soap bar - tea tree is a natural antiseptic, so perfect for psoriasis sufferers. It also smells zingy and fresh to wake up your senses as an added bonus.
Oatmeal and Spice soap bar - use this in your bath or shower to allow the real oats to calm any inflammation. It smells musky and sultry too, so you'll feel like you're wearing a designer fragrance when you emerge from the water.
Seaweed soap bar - seaweed is renowned for being able to soothe dry skin problems, so we've condensed its healing properties into a convenient soap for everyday use.
Soaps in a gift box - We've included this as it contains several of the above options, plus olive and hemp and walnut too, with the latter great for men and women. It's also favoured by some of our customers who have skin problems, so you don't have to take our word that it works a treat!
If you have been prescribed or recommended psoriasis treatments, always use them alongside our products, not as an alternative - think of them as soothing top-ups that can be applied whenever you like, rather than simply a few times a day like a medication.
We'd definitely suggest giving some of these ideas a try this summer though, whether they're for you or someone else who is struggling with their symptoms.