At Skin Trust Club, we want to help everyone understand their skin better so that they can look and feel their best.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about psoriasis, how it is linked to your skin microbiome, and our top tips for skincare and symptom management.
What is Psoriasis?
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Affecting around 125 million people, psoriasis is one of the most common chronic skin conditions in the world. People with psoriasis develop areas of red, flaky and itchy skin. On Caucasian skin, this dry skin is often covered in silvery scales, whereas scales may appear more purple or brown on skin of colour.
For many, this condition is no more than an inconvenient irritation of the skin, while for others who deal with more severe psoriasis symptoms, it can be life-changing. Some people with psoriasis may also develop psoriatic arthritis and suffer with painful joints, swollen joints or stiff joints.
Types of Psoriasis
While patches of skin covered in scales can appear anywhere on the body, they are common around the elbows, knees, and lower back. However, this does vary depending on the severity of psoriasis as well as the type of psoriasis.
Types of psoriasis include:
- Plaque psoriasis – 80-90% of people with psoriasis experience this form of the skin disorder with psoriasis plaques covered in silvery-white scale or purple-brown scale depending on the individual’s skin colour.
- Nail psoriasis – Often accompanies plaque psoriasis and affects fingernails and toenails. Signs of nail psoriasis include discolouration, change in shape, appearance of pinprick holes, or separation of nails from the nail bed.
- Guttate psoriasis – Characterised by small round spots called papules often present on the torso, arms and legs. This itchy skin condition may initially be triggered by an infection such as strep throat.
- Pustular psoriasis – Inflammation causes pus-filled pustules surrounded by discoloured or inflamed skin. These skin symptoms may cover large areas of the body, or be restricted to hands and feet.
- Inverse psoriasis – Unlike other common types of psoriasis, people with inverse psoriasis suffer with inflamed skin in skin folds such as the underarms, groin and under breast areas, and do not experience scales.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis – Erythrodermic psoriasis is rare and can have life-threatening consequences. It affects nearly the entire body and can disrupt fluid retention and body temperature regulation.
What Causes Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. This means that the immune system of people with psoriasis attacks healthy skin cells by mistake. An overactive immune system in psoriasis also leads to increased production of skin cells. Instead of skin cells growing and falling off over the course of a month, dysfunction of the immune system speeds up the growth of skin cells so that a new layer of skin forms in as little as every three to four days. This results in skin cells piling up on the surface to form itchy plaques or scales, rather than harmlessly shedding as usual.
It is difficult to specify a single cause, however scientists have identified that psoriasis arises from genetic and immune system-related factors.
Luckily, there are things you can do to help manage and improve your symptoms. Common psoriasis triggers include high stress levels, infections, wounds, an unhealthy lifestyle, and environmental triggers such as extreme weather. Although you may not be able to influence the genetic triggers behind psoriasis, there is a lot you can do to improve your symptoms – and it all starts with your skin microbiome.
What is Your Skin Microbiome?
Your skin microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms living on your skin surface, and it’s make up is completely unique to you! The bacterial colonies on your skin play a vital role in maintaining healthy skin, fighting off infection, and protecting your immune system.
The skin microbial composition is established during the first years of our lives and it becomes stable by the time we are 30. However, changes in lifestyle, diet, environment and health can cause drastic and permanent changes to the skin microbiome which, in turn, will affect our health.
The Skin Microbiome and Skin Conditions
Recent studies have confirmed that changes in the skin microbiome can trigger, worsen, or improve chronic skin inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis, acne, eczema, and rosacea. Different skin disorders are more likely to develop depending on the particular microbial imbalance experienced.
Additional international studies have shown the link between psoriasis and the skin microbiome, placing this relationship at the core of new and revolutionary therapies to improve this skin condition.
While there is no definitive cure for psoriasis, looking after your skin microbiome can help relieve your condition, strengthen your immune system, and improve your skin health.
Management of Psoriasis Symptoms
Imbalances in the immune system can lead to skin diseases such as psoriasis, which can be worsened by factors such as an unbalanced diet, lack of exercise, excessive smoking or drinking, and certain medications.
How your skin reacts to inflammation, infection and harmful bacteria is an important factor in the improper immunological response that causes psoriasis. When your skin microbiome is balanced, your skin is healthier and has a stronger, better response to negative environmental factors.
Your skin microbiome can be influenced by your lifestyle choices and skincare routine. Symptoms of psoriasis can be managed by keeping a few strategies in mind:
- Keep hydrated to prevent skin fractures and cracks, which can foster infection.
- Avoid environmental and emotional stress by keeping your cortisol (stress hormone) levels low and preventing exposure to extremely hot or cold weather, and pollutants.
- Strengthen the gut flora, skin microbiome, and immune system through a balanced, nutritious diet that revolves around plant-based protein, fruit, vegetables, and unprocessed foods.
- Speak to your primary care doctor if you think you may benefit from topical treatments such as topical corticosteroids for mild psoriasis or moderate psoriasis symptoms.
Our skincare top tips for managing psoriasis symptoms:
- Avoid long baths or showers with very hot water as these can make symptoms of psoriasis worse. Use warm water and gentle, fragrance-free soap. Harsh chemicals, detergents and fragrances can throw your skin microbiome off balance.
- Choose a gentle cleanser to avoid stripping the natural oils from your skin. Cleansers that are too harsh can impair your skin barrier function, leaving it more vulnerable to environmental stressors. You may find a cream, oil or balm cleanser suits dry, sensitive skin best.
- Keep your skin moisturised. Look for products containing ceramides to help repair your skin barrier function. Avoid skincare with fragrances and essential oils as these may cause skin irritations. Occlusives such as petroleum jelly will help seal in moisture after this step.
- As always, don’t forget your sunscreen!
Understanding Your Unique Skin Microbiome
Your unique skin microbiome determines your skin type and needs. Understanding your skin microbiome and which skincare products are most beneficial for you is key for your best skin health.
Although there is no cure, psoriasis treatment may reduce symptoms for minimal discomfort and disruptions to daily life. Since everyone’s skin microbiome composition is unique, no two psoriasis patient’s treatments can be exactly the same.
At Skin Trust Club, we have developed the world’s first at-home skin microbiome test so that you can truly understand your skin. For a limited time only, we are offering a free trial of our skin microbiome test kit so that you can receive personalised, microbiome friendly skincare recommendations tailored to your unique skin type.
Sign up here for your free trial with science-backed skincare suggestions and access to our health tracking app: https://www.skintrustclub.com/skin-microbiome-kit-offer/