An Integrative Approach to Managing a Psoriasis and Chronic Skin Condition

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Psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune skin condition, affects millions worldwide, causing discomfort, inflammation, and visible red, scaly skin patches. While modern medicine offers various treatments, the quest for alternative solutions leads many to explore Ayurveda. Can Ayurveda relieve psoriasis, and what are the best ways to manage this condition?

Understanding Psoriasis:

Psoriasis is characterized by the rapid buildup of skin cells, leading to scaling, itching, and inflammation. Psoriasis originated from the Greek word “Psora” (spelled sora) which means, “itch”. It is a chronic skin disease characterized by dry skin and raised, rough, red areas on the skin covered with fine silvery scales. Erythematous, well-defined dry scaly papules and plaques range from pinhead to palm-sized. Due to itch scraping causes multiple bleeding points. Different variants of psoriasis may co-exist in a particular individual, but the skin lesions all share the same hallmarks erythema, thickening, and scale. The condition manifests in several forms:

  • Plaque Psoriasis: The most common form, presenting as raised, red patches covered with a silvery buildup of dead skin cells.
  • Guttate Psoriasis: Small, dot-like lesions that often appear after a strep throat infection.
  • Inverse Psoriasis: Affecting skin folds like the armpits and groin, it appears as smooth, red lesions.
  • Pustular Psoriasis: Characterized by white pustules surrounded by red skin.
  • Scalp Psoriasis: Occurs on the scalp, causing redness, itching, and flaking.

Common signs and symptoms:

  • Red Patches: Raised, inflamed, red patches of skin are the hallmark of psoriasis. These patches are usually covered with silver-white scales and can appear on various body parts, including elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, and nails.
  • Scaling: The rapid turnover of skin cells leads to the accumulation of dead skin cells on the surface, resulting in scaling or thick, silvery scales on the skin.
  • Itching and Irritation: The affected areas often become itchy and may cause discomfort or irritation, leading to scratching and potential bleeding.
  • Dryness and Cracking: The skin in psoriasis-affected areas tends to be dry, leading to cracking or fissures, which can be painful and sometimes bleed.
  • Joint Pain: In some cases, psoriasis can also affect the joints, causing a specific type of arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis. This can result in joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.
  • Nail Changes: Psoriasis can affect the nails, causing pitting, discoloration, thickening, or separation from the nail bed. Nail changes might be an early sign of psoriasis.
  • Lesion Variations: Different types of psoriasis, such as plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, and pustular psoriasis, have their unique presentations and variations in symptoms.

Ayurveda and Psoriasis

In Ayurveda, skin diseases are collectively considered under a common term of Kushtha. Most of the formulations described in Kushtha chikitsa have efficiently been used by physicians to treat different skin ailments. However, due to the complex pathophysiology and chronic and relapsing nature of psoriasis, the multimodal treatment approach has been adopted. As per Ayurveda causes of all varieties of skin diseases are common. Intake of mutually contradictory food(virudhanna) is the cause of skin disorders. Intake of this food causes vitiation of tridosha and that will be responsible for various skin disorders. Ekakushta is compared with psoriasis due to its maximum resemblance with signs and symptoms.

Conventional Treatments vs. Ayurveda Approach:

Modern medicine offers various treatments such as topical creams, oral medications, phototherapy, and biologics targeting the immune system. However, some patients seek alternative therapies like Ayurveda for a more holistic approach. Ayurveda views psoriasis as an imbalance in the body’s doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. According to Ayurvedic principles, treatment involves detoxification, diet changes, herbal remedies, and lifestyle modifications to restore balance. Based on the involvement and range of vitiation of doshas, Ayurvedic treatment can be planned with various ranges of external applications, internal medications, or Panchakarma procedures like Vamana, Virechana, or Raktamokshana by Leech therapy are also indicated in certain groups of patients.

Can Psoriasis be Cured by Ayurveda?

While conventional medicine doesn’t offer a definitive cure, Ayurveda aims to address the root cause by focusing on internal cleansing, strengthening the immune system, and reducing inflammation. Studies suggest that Ayurvedic treatments, like the Panchakarma detoxification process, herbal formulations, and dietary modifications, can alleviate symptoms and reduce flare-ups in some individuals.