Managing Psoriasis as You Age

Don’t Let Psoriasis Control Your Life

Psoriasis is a disease that can be socially and physically debilitating.

Millions of people suffer from it but doctors don’t understand the disease enough yet to find a cure.

If you’re one of those millions of people, then chances are, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Far from just being scaly, itchy skin, psoriasis causes physical illness that can rob you of your mobility and your life. We’re going to discuss this miserable disease and by the end of this article, you’ll know what, exactly, it is and what you can do to manage it as you age.

What Is Psoriasis?

There are several different types of psoriasis but in a nutshell, it’s a skin disease that messes with the life cycle of your skin cells. The cells build up on top of each other and accumulate into thick, scaly, silvery patches that are itchy and sometimes painful.

The disease is chronic, which means that you have it forever, and there is no cure for it. It tends to get progressively worse as you age, too. Doctors aren’t sure exactly what causes it though it’s heavily theorized that it’s somehow triggered by your immune system. There also seems to be a genetic component to psoriasis.

Triggers

Perhaps one of the worst parts of having psoriasis is that you never know when it’s going to creep up on you. It worsens and improves randomly and tends to get more severe as you age. There are some triggers that may initiate or worsen an outbreak including:

  • Stress, especially chronic stress
  • Smoking
  • Binge drinking or alcoholism
  • Skin traumas such as cuts or sunburns
  • Cold weather
  • Bodily infections like thrush or strep throat

Now that we’ve touched on the basics of what psoriasis is and what can trigger outbreaks, let’s talk about what role it plays in aging.

Psoriatic Arthritis

As we’ve mentioned, the disease tends to worsen with age but that’s not the main reason that we’re discussing it in the context of healthy aging. Psoriasis can actually travel to your joints and you can develop what’s called psoriatic arthritis.

The arthritis is most likely to develop between the ages of 30 and 50. There are a couple of predisposing factors, too. People with psoriasis outbreaks on their fingernails or toenails are more likely to suffer from psoriatic arthritis down the road. Also, it’s really common for the arthritis to be seen in siblings or parent/children links.

Once you develop this form of arthritis, there are only proactive steps that you can take to keep from irritating and worsening the condition. Like its parent condition, doctors just don’t know enough about it to figure out how to prevent it and there is no cure.

The best thing that you can do once you develop psoriatic arthritis is keep your joints healthy and avoid straining them by maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, and protecting your smaller joints from undue strain. Using jar openers to take the stress off of your hands and lifting heavy objects using both hands are a couple of good examples. You get the idea.

Other Complications and Risks of Psoriasis

Though psoriatic arthritis is one of the main concerns you probably have as you age with psoriasis, there are other risks that you have to deal with, too. You’re at a higher risk of suffering from other diseases and conditions such as:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Possibly cancer though the research isn’t definitive yet

Treatment Options

Though there’s no cure, there are several treatment options for your psoriasis that may possibly also decrease your risk of developing some of these other diseases. Just a few of these include:

  1. Topical, Oral, and Injectable Drugs

    • Prescription and non-prescription corticosteroids
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprophen, acetaminophen and naproxen
    • Vitamin A and vitamin D treatments
    • Salicylic acid
    • Cool tar
    • Moisturizers
    • Light therapy
    • Retinoids
    • Immuno-suppressants
    • Medications that decrease production of skin cells
    • Immunomodulator drugs (biologics)

  2. Lifestyle Modifications

    • Avoid known triggers
    • Exercise regulary
    • Maintain a healthy weight
    • Eat a healthy diet
    • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
    • Get out in the sun for a few minutes each day

  3. Home Remedies

    • Daily warm (not hot) baths. Adding oatmeal, Epsom salts or bath oils may help
    • Use good ointment-based moisturizers right after your bath
    • Aloe Vera, Fish oil, and Vitamin E may help reduce itching, scaling and inflammation

Controlling your psoriasis is paramount to good health as you age. If you work closely with your doctor and do everything that you can in order to manage your disease, you may be able to avoid, or at least minimize, its progression.

If you suffer from psoriasis and would like to share your experience with us, please feel free to do so in the comments section below!

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