It is a patch of thick, red skin covered with silvery scale, which usually itch and burn. Affected persons suffer from restricted movement in their joints, emotional distress and cracked skin. The disease may also affect the fingernails, the toenails and the soft tissues inside the mouth and genitalia. Scaling occurs when cells in the outer layer of the skin reproduce faster than normal and pile up on the skin's surface. In many ways, psoriatic skin is similar to skin which is healing from a wound or reaching to a stimulus such as infection.
Psoriasis display different characteristics such as pus like blister, severe sloughing of the skin, drop like dots, and smooth inflamed lesions. In Ayurveda, these may be correlated with Eka-kustha, KItibha-kustha and Sidma- kustha. Psoiasis is aggravated by injury or irritation (cuts, burns, rash, insect bites). Medications (beta-blockers, used to treat high blood pressure, and lithium or other drugs used to treat depression), viral or bacterial infections, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, lack of sunlight, overexposure to sunlight (sunburn), stress, cold climate and frequent friction on the skin are also associated with flare-ups of psoriasis.
SELF HELP APPROACH
- Cutting down of fats, animal protein, sugars and the quantity of food consumed is recommended.
- Avoid alcoholic intake. Ingestion of alcohol appears to be a risk factor for psoriasis.
- Daily regular short doses of sunlight that do not produce sunburn clear psoriasis. Vitamin D is convertd in the body into a powerful hormone by sunlight.
- Bathing in water added with oil and applying moisturizer can soothe the skin. Scales can be removed effectively and itching reduced with salt-water bath.
- A proper exercise programme can improve flexibility and mobility of the joints. For psoriasis arthritis, therapeutic exercise is often targeted at the soft tissues around the joints. Moderate bicycling is good for knees and ankle. Jogging or running can be counter productive because it puts stress on the knees and hips. One can get the same benefits with a fast walk. In inflamed and immobile joints, the regimen includes simple stretching exercise.
- Apply diluted limejuice externally.
- Eat thin slices of onions fried in ghee.
- Tie a fresh thin banana leaf on the affected area.
- Powder few almonds and boil thoroughly in water. Apply this paste on affected areas and let it remain overnight. Next morning, wash it off with water.
- Boil one teaspoonful sandalwood (chandan, Santalum album) powder in three cups of water until it is reduced to one cup. Add a little rose water and sugar and take thrice a day.
- Grind cleaned doob grass (Cynodon dactylon) without the roots and turmeric in 4:1 ratio into a fine paste and apply on the affected areas.
- Grind a handful of fresh jasmine flowers and apply the paste on the affected areas.
- Boil one teaspoonful of powdered soap pod (shikakai) in one-cup water. Cool and apply on the affected parts.
- Drink fresh cabbage juice (½ cup) everyday to ensure faster recovery.
- Capsaicin derived from hot peppers (Capsicum annum) works on redness, scaling and itching. Mahaamarichyadi taila, ayurvedic oil, contains pepper as one of the ingredients.
- Kushtaraakhasa taila, kitibhaari malahara etc. are specific applictions for psoriasis. They remove the scaling of the skin and provide soothing effect.
- Pancha tikta ghrita guggulu about 5-10 gm with mahaa Mahamanjisstaadi kwaatha are to be used every morning and evening for 6 weeks. Maha tikta ghritam can also be used in similar lines.