Psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that primarily affects the skin and causes scale like flakes to form due to an excessive and intense production of skin cells. Some people have isolated cases (like me where it mainly effects my scalp), others have it covering large parts of their body but most commonly it is found on the feet, elbows and scalp. The disease is incurable, uncomfortable and painful and comes with lots of hidden add ons including brittle nails, sensitive skin, hair loss, a high risk of Psiorstic Arthritis to name a few.
Now, as I mentioned, the disease is incurable. There is no quick fix for psoriasis but there is a lot that can be done to reduce the discomfort. I suffer on my scalp with only the occasional flare on my hands, elbows or in my eyebrows – I wish I was joking – so I cannot say much for pain, flake or redness relief in many other places of the body but I did want to share some of the things I have found to help with my own symptoms that don’t include taking medication.
1. Swapping out liquid soaps.
The best decision I made last year was to rid my house of liquid soap and exchange it for locally made, skin loving bars from The Camel Soap Factory. Every bathroom and sink in the house has a bar of this gental, natural, sulphate and parabate free soap and it’s been a game changer. Regular soap makes my hands feel sore and tight, like I’ve been out in the cold with no gloves on, it lasts about half an hour and I know it’s just not right. Since changing to soap bars – locally made with natural ingredients – I’ve had no pain or discomfort when I’ve washed my hands.
You can find The Camel Soap Factory products at Ripe Markets and the Ripe shop as well as Dubai Duty Free, Al Jaber Gallery, Carrefour, and many others across the city. If you’re not fussed about how they look do what I do and buy a box of offcuts for 50Dhs, that gives you around 11/12 bars.
2. Changing shampoos.
I have spent over 10 years trying every dandruff treatment known to man (this was before I knew it was psoriasis plaguing my scalp), everything from shampoo to tar went into my hair and I found no relief. Then one day, on the suggestion of my other half I picked up some sulphate and parabate free Argan Oil shampoo and my life changed.
My hair now falls out in much smaller handfuls than it had been doing for years, I have to empty my brush every three days instead of every day and it is back to feeling thick and healthy like it’s supposed to! I have also noticed a visible difference in the flaking of my scalp and the uncontrollable itching I used to get; 99% gone. Since then I have found a brand I love, Hask, and I use their charcoal based shampoo and the Argan oil conditioner, it’s done wonders for my hair and scalp.
I have also found that with these shampoos I have to wash my hair far less, maybe once a week, which means my scalp gets a chance to rest. I would say wash your hair as little as possible and don’t even think about those dry shampoos. Also, try not to brush your hair when it’s wet, it’s much more traumatic on your scalp and your hair will break a lot more easily.
Important: Do not use “no poo” shampoo on your scalp, the baking soda dries it out and while it may be chemical free and zero waste it’s not doing your head any favours.
3. Forget the blow dry.
Do not blow dry your hair. I cannot stress this enough. The heat will irritate your scalp and you’ll find yourself questions if the do was woth it. When possible let your hair dry naturally and try avoid using any heated appliances on your hair. Because my fringe misbehaves I have to blow dry it once a week or so and then I leave it, if it starts flicking out to the side or being a general pain the ass I pin it back until it’s time to wash and reset.
If you do have to blow dry your hair, put it on the lowest heat setting and for the sake of your own comfort try and limit the amount you pull and twist with the brush, every time you pull your hair – more so when it’s wet – you’re aggravating your scalp.
4. Skin kind washing up liquid.
I hate washing dishes, it makes my hands hurt like nothing else and after a big sinkful of them I want to just cut my hands off, it would probably hurt less.
For years I used run of the mill washing up liquid, I never really thought about it, then one day, after doing a sink full of dishes I realized it was just too much since then I’ve invested in Ecover‘s washing up products, they are perfect for sensitive skin and I have noticed a massive change in the skin on my hands.
Yes you could wear marigolds but for me personally they make me feel really uncomfortable so they are a no.
5. No gluten, no dairy, no problem.
Dairy and gluten. We’ve all seen the articles and the scare tactics of how these foods are the devil and no one should ever eat them and they’re going to kill us all.
It’s not true.
Some people can tolerate gluten and dairy just fine and those people should eat them, have at it. But if you suffer from psoriasis, I am sorry to say, you are not one of those people.
Traditional dairy contains something called Casein A1 which, for what ever reason, aggravates our condition greatly – I won’t go into the science of it now. Gluten is the same, something in the genetic make up causes those with psoriasis to flare and hurt.
So do yourself a favour, just say no to it. Treat yourself sometimes but for the most part, avoid it like the plague.
6. Letting my hair down.
I am a great lover of hair ties, clips and pins, having my hair falling in my face all day is one thing I cannot deal with, so I cut my hair. Why? Because the more time I spend with it in a tight bun or ponytail the more aggressive the itch and pain on my scalp gets.
I now have my hair cut to a length and style I am comfortable wearing down most of the day and if I am at work or trying to do something that requires me to have my hair back I have these amazing spiral pins that I twist into a loose bun and they hold like magic, I love them, they never get tight and they are so easy to use, plus taking them out doesn’t pull out huge masses of my hair.
7. Vitamin D addict.
The best treatment for psoriasis is vitamin D, I’m not joking. 20 minutes in the sun everyday will do you wonders.
So go outside. Now.
8. Salt is good for you.
I will bet you anything mermaids don’t have psoriasis. No really. Sea salt is magical for your skin so try spending a few hours in the sea – and getting some of that vitamin D, two birds, one stone – or give your hair a salt rinse with natural sea salt dissolved in water every few weeks.
Embrace that beach hair!
9. Ditch anything antibacterial NOW.
This is probably the most important advice I could give anyone, psoriasis or not. Antibacterial soap is the devil. You do not need it, get it out of your house right now.
These antibacterial soaps dry out your skin like there is no tomorrow and those hand sanitizers in your bag are making you sick. The more you try and hide from the germs in the world around you the less work your immune system has to do so when you do get ill you get really ill. Those 99% of germs the soaps kill include the good ones, so do yourself a favour, let yourself get the sniffles and ditch the nasty soaps, let the doctors and the nurses have them for the hospitals.
This might seem like a pretty stupid thing to point out but make sure you’re staying hydrated.