Psoriasis and ageing - it's not just an issue of the skin
2 August 2018
If psoriasis is something you’re struggling with, we understand. Mix psoriasis with ageing and things can become even worse, affecting more than just our skin.
This persistent and aggravating condition can really get people down when they experience flares. But the good news is, there are treatments available that can lessen the impact of psoriasis.
What causes psoriasis?
Psoriasis is one of those conditions that is difficult to pinpoint to a cause. As yet, no definitive answer has been discovered. However, the research does seem to indicate it has an immunological basis, which means it involves a mis-firing of the immune system.
While we can’t say for sure what’s causing it, we have a lot of evidence around what can trigger a psoriasis flare.
While these are different for each person, some common flare triggers are:
- Stress. Psoriasis can almost be a barometer for your level of mental calm and well being. If you’re experiencing a flare, or flares are common for you, try meditation, do some yoga, release some endorphins with physical activity or join a support group to talk through the life events you’re experiencing. Whatever can reduce stress in a healthy way, do it!
- Infections. Whenever the immune system seems to be misfiring we look to infections as triggers for flares because they put extra pressure on an already over-working immune system. Bacterial sore throats, so common during the Winter months, are a common trigger for psoriasis, so we recommend keeping well clear of others who are unwell and resting if you do get sick, giving your immune system the best chance of fighting the infection. And always see your doctor if things don’t seem to clear up easily
- Skin injuries. If we’re susceptible to psoriasis a skin injury such as a scratch, an insect bite, sunburn or tattoos can cause the condition to flare in a new area. This is called the Koebner Phenomenon and can make an individual’s struggle with psoriasis even more frustrating. Avoid exacerbating the situation by picking or scratching sores and bites, always use sunscreen and think twice about that tattoo!
- Long, hot showers. Nice as these may be, in the Winter, they dry out your skin and worsen your psoriasis, which is sensitive to skin dryness. Shortening showers will also have a positive impact on your heating and water bills!
- Smoking and alcohol. There’s not many things that these two culprits don’t make worse. It may feel like it’s harder than living with psoriasis, but giving up smoking and alcohol can improve many areas of your health and are well worth cutting way back on, if not removing completely from your life. Try gently cutting back, a little each time – one less cigarette per day until that feels normal, then keep going. And give yourself a very moderate drink limit each week, including at least 4 days with no alcohol at all
- Winter. Psoriasis tends to get worse during the colder months, so remember to rug up and stay warm. Using a sunscreen is always advised and find a good moisturiser to stop the skin drying out more than necessary (we’ve talked more about this below).
Ageing and psoriasis
As we age, psoriasis affects more than just our skin.
The scalp is a common part of the body to be affected by psoriasis as we age. This means we should be careful with products used on our hair as they may trigger or worsen flares. Be particularly careful if you colour your hair, opting for foils over colours that sit against the scalp while they activate.
Similarly, we need to be very careful with the products and treatments used to fight the signs of ageing on our face, neck, décolletage and hands. Over the counter products used to help with wrinkles, dryness and sunspots often contain alcohol, which can dry out already dry psoriatic skin, making it sting and worsening a flare.
Our clinic’s range of skin care products, Radiance, are safe for psoriatic skin as they’ve been specifically formulated without the ingredients which most commonly cause skin irritation. However, a discussion with our dermatologist, Dr Terence Poon, can ensure a recommendation of products for skin and hair that are low=irritant and suited to your skin.
Some skin cancers are more common in those with psoriasis as well as being more common with age. This means those with psoriasis have increased risk of these cancers. Regular skin checks with a dermatologist will ensure any troubles spots are diagnosed early and treatment has the best chance of being effective.
Treatment for psoriasis
While there is no treatment available to cure psoriasis, we can treat the symptoms of both it and your ageing, with several skin rejuvenation procedures being offered her at our clinic which can help improve the texture and feel of your skin. A consult with Dr Poon will ensure the right treatment is offered to you.
Our Cosmetic Physician, Dr Marianne Nolan, has extensive experience in using injectables like Botox and fillers in patient with psoriasis, so help improve the appearance of their skin as they age. You can make an appointment to discuss these directly with Dr Nolan, at our clinic.
Got more questions?
Why not make an appointment with our dermatologist, Dr Terence Poon, to have your skin reviewed and your questions answered. Call our friendly receptionists today to make your appointment on (02) 9953 9522.
Written by Dr Helena Torpinski.
Helena is a GP and medical laser specialist who loves helping patients’ look and feel their best, and to love the skin their in.