What is Plaque Psoriasis?
Plaque psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris) is, as it sounds, plaques of psoriasis on the surface of the skin. These plaques are often distinguished by their thick, red or silvery rough scaly appearance. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the skin disease affecting 90% of people who have this skin condition.
Where is Plaque Psoriasis?
Plaque psoriasis most commonly appears on the elbows, knees and scalp, but it can affect any part of the body.
Why is Plaque Psoriasis Itchy?
The problem with psoriasis is that the skin cells are multiplying too quickly. The body's immune system is functioning incorrectly and sending T Cell signals to form new skin, this happens much too rapidly and the build up of skin cells can feel itchy and irritated. Furthermore, scratching at the build up of cells may lead to broken skin which can be painful and susceptible to infection.
Mild, Moderate or Severe Plaque Psoriasis?
The severity of plaque psoriasis is defined by three categories;
- Mild - Covering less than 3% of the body
- Moderate - Covering between 3% and 10% of the body
- Severe - Covering more than 10% of the body
You'd be surprised at just how few plaques of psoriasis on the body are required to be deemed as severe plaque psoriasis. Impact on mental health should also be taken into account when diagnosing the severity of the condition. For example, somebody with mild psoriasis might really struggle with the day to day impact of patches on their elbows or knees, where as someone with severe psoriasis might be quite content with covering up and may consider it more of an inconvenience than be deeply emotionally affected. Everybody is different.
Size of Plaque Psoriasis
Patches of plaque psoriasis can greatly vary in size and those patches can shrink, grow and change over the months and years. Patches might be no bigger than a pound coin, whilst others can cover significant portions of the body. Some patches might clear as new ones appear. Interestingly the disease often appears symmetrically on the body i.e: if you have patches on your right elbow, chances are you will have patches on your right elbow. This is often, but not always, the case. Plaque psoriasis affects everyone a little differently.
Plaque Psoriasis on the Scalp
Over 50% of us who suffer with plaque psoriasis will experience patches on the scalp. Scalp psoriasis can be extremely uncomfortable and distressing. Plaques on the head can feel incredibly itchy and can cause hair to fall out at the follicle due to itching and damaged skin. Rest assured hair loss is usually temporary and hair will begin to grow back. Find out more about scalp psoriasis here and check out my natural scalp psoriasis treatment here.
Treatments for Plaque Psoriasis
Treatments for plaque psoriasis you might be offered by your doctor or dermatologist might include:
- Topical corticosteroids
- UVB light treatment
- Salicylic acid ointments (typically for the scalp)
If you would like to consider a natural treatment for plaque psoriasis, focusing on an anti-inflammatory, predominantly plant based psoriasis diet free of nightshades has yielded wonderful results for many people following the protocol set down in my book Radiant - Recipes to Heal Skin from Within.
Healing Plaque Psoriasis
During the healing process you will notice changes in your skin. People often report plaques healing from the inside outwards. 'New' or 'normal' skin might begin to appear in the centre of the plaque and radiate outwards. Other people notice their plaques change from red to pink and fade as the itching subsides. Healing patterns can vary greatly. Once the plaque psoriasis has healed there is often a white 'scar' left behind on the surface of the skin. This isn't usually a scar, but often a patch of skin where the pigment has disappeared. Rest assured the pigment does eventually return. Using a natural oil such as Rose hip can help to promote the return of colour to the skin. If your psoriasis has been particularly itchy, there might be some damage to the underlying skin where you've picked or scratched at the plaques. Rose hip oil has also been traditionally shown to help reduce scarring.
What to Apply to Plaque Psoriasis
Your doctor or dermatologist may prescribe you steroid creams, coal tar or emollients to apply topically to the skin. The potential problem with these treatments is that once you stop using them the underlying condition still prevails, so the skin has the potential to flare again (sometimes twice as badly).
Whilst we're constantly told from childhood to 'stop itching', sometimes it's incredibly hard with plaque psoriasis to break the itch / scratch cycle. Gently sloughing away the build up of cells is not necessarily a bad thing. Gently brushing with an exfoliating mitt or natural body scrub in the bath can help reduce build up. The optimum word here is 'gently'!! Don't scrub hard or damage your skin further. Using a product such as our Radiant Calm Balm can help hydrate and soothe the plaques. 100% natural it contains only pure, essential oils and is designed specifically for dry, itchy skin.
Regardless of how natural or sensitive your moisturising cream might be labelled, read the ingredients carefully. Ingredients such as 'mineral oil' sound innocent, but that's actually a petrol derivative. The skin is incredibly sensitive at absorbing what's put on it into the body. Think about a nicotine patch for example, the nicotine is placed on the skin and absorbed continually into the bloodstream. This isn't something you want with chemical filled shower gels, bath foams and creams. Using natural oils and salts in the bath such as dead sea or epsom salts and almond or olive oil with a few drops of lavender can offer better hydration and feel equally, if not more, soothing without any harmful side effects.
Do you struggle with plaque psoriasis? Which treatments have you tried over the years and have you had success? Post in the comments below.