Expert shares tips for psoriasis skincare

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Illustration photo by Getty Images
Illustration photo by Getty Images
  • Specialist dermatologist, Dr Tarryn Jacobs says in psoriasis an overactive immune system speeds up the life cycle of the skin cells.
  • Normally, healthy skin cells mature and shed from the skin's surface every 28 days, in psoriasis, these cells reproduce much quicker, usually within three to four days, and pile up on the skin's surface.
  • This causes the development of thick, scaly, red patches of skin, which are characteristic of psoriasis. 

How psoriasis affects the skin barrier 

Psoriasis affects the skin's hydration and the function of the skin barrier. The skin barrier is made up of multiple layers of cells called corneocytes, which can be considered as the "bricks" of a protective wall. They are held together by "glue", which are the lipids in our skin, such as ceramides.

A healthy skin barrier maintains the water balance in the skin and protects against environmental aggressors such as UV rays, microorganisms, and pollution.

READ MORE | Blue light: what we do and don't know about the damage it causes our skin 

Can sun exposure make psoriasis better or worse?

Psoriasis can respond beneficially to UV radiation from natural sunlight or artificial sources (phototherapy). However, sun-induced aggravation of psoriasis can occur in around five to 24% of people, particularly in light-skinned individuals. Sunburn can also provoke new areas of psoriasis in a process called a Koebner response. Daily sun protection is recommended with sunscreen of a minimum SPF of 30.

READ MORE | Thinking of getting a minor cosmetic procedure like botox or fillers? Here's what to consider first

How to treat psoriasis

Treatment of psoriasis is centred around anti-inflammatory prescription medication. Depending on the severity of the condition, prescriptions include topical creams, light therapy, oral, and injectable medications. 

Two skincare tips for people with psoriasis

The fact that psoriasis affects the skin barrier means that good basic skincare practices are essential in conjunction with medical treatment. This can help to relieve dryness, itchiness, and strengthen the skin barrier function, which can improve the overall quality of life.

1. Cleanse your skin gently

It's important to use gentle pH-balanced cleansers which can protect from further disruption of the fragile skin barrier.

2. Choose the ideal moisturiser

Moisturisers can help to reduce the dryness, scaling, and roughness of psoriasis-affected skin. A good moisturiser usually contains a combination of ingredients, namely emollients (e.g. dimethicone), humectants (e.g. glycerine) and occlusives (e.g. petroleum jelly). Ceramides are useful to seek out as they form the predominant component of the skin barrier and offer excellent barrier repair activity.

READ MORE | Here's how to treat hyperpigmentation in darker skin tones according to an expert

Source: Gullan and Gullan

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