My son has psoriasis. What should I know?
Psoriasis is an immunologic condition of:
- Recurring, often disturbing-looking, scaly, thick and red patches in the skin;
- Nail changes, and
- Thick patches in the scalp.
The condition can affect 10% of the body in mild cases to 20% or more of the body in severe cases (which can also come with mild to debilitating arthritis). As unnerving as the skin lesions can be, they are NOT infectious or contagious. In fact, psoriasis is just a form of allergy, much like a contact dermatitis or eczema.
Stress is a big trigger and people with psoriasis can feel stressed or depressed about their appearance, the daily treatments they have to spend time on, and the expense of therapy. Relatives, friends, and caregivers need to be educated about the condition to provide a strong support system.
Doctors must find the time to listen to their patients and watch for clues that are possible triggers for flare-ups, and for comorbidities that may be signs of common causes of inflammation that can then trigger obesity, hypertension, diabetes, or arthritis.
Psoriasis groups exist all over the world and are great sources of assistance for treatment recommendations and subsidies as well as emotional support and even psoriasis-friendly career searches. A great place to start: the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations www.ifpa-pso.org.
At “Worst” Contact
“I just got diagnosed with the worst contact dermatitis and have to throw out everything and start at the beginning! Help!”
Contact dermatitis is an acquired skin reaction to chemicals to which you have become sensitive (you don’t need to be born with it). This does not mean “natural” products are necessarily ok — everything in nature is a chemical.
Usually, your skin comes into contact (hence the name) with these chemicals from the outside. But even from inside the body a reaction can occur. For instance, if you’re allergic to perfumes, a scented skin lotion can cause a reaction. But, as many fragrance chemicals are derived from plants which can be present in foods, eating foods with these fragrance chemicals can trigger a reaction.
A good example is mango. The oil on its rind, leaves, and bark are similar to poison ivy and related plants. People allergic to it find that eating or just handling mangoes can cause a rash on the hands, lips, and angles of the mouth.
Balsam of peru (or ingredients related to it) is a natural plant extract used as a flavor or scent in cosmetics, laundry soaps, even drugs and foods — and any of them can cause this contact dermatitis (balsam of peru is so potent and prevalent that it accounts for about 50% of allergies to perfumes in patch tests).
As frustrated as you may feel right now, you’re far from alone:
Contact dermatitis is the reason that 1 in 20 patients see a doctor, and 1 in 3 to 5 see a dermatologist. 1 in 5 people are allergic to cosmetic ingredients. Yet most cases of contact dermatitis go undiagnosed.
Diagnosing contact dermatitis correctly means a physician with a high index of suspicion for its patterns must recognize it, do a patch test, identify the specific chemical(s) causing it, and make the final diagnosis. While common, diagnosing contact dermatitis requires a certain expertise and attentiveness … so thank your doctor!
Another reason to throw your dermatologist a parade? Once you know the chemicals you need to avoid the results — the relief! — are often immediate and dramatic, especially for patients who have had the condition for years prior to being diagnosed.
If your doctor is a member of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, she can feed your patch test results into the Contact Allergen Management Program (CAMP) and give you a list of products that you can use.
You can also send VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® your patch test results via Ask VMV and we’ll give you a customized list of products you can use.
So “skin” up! However bad your contact dermatitis is, there’s probably someone out there who has it just as bad or worse, and more people probably have it and don’t know it. And before you start threatening to sell the dog to finance your new “skinventory”:
This should lessen the panic and expense of having to start your “belle” game right at the 1st “skinning.”
“My Id regimen’s controlling my acne but I’d like to lighten the dark scars with Illuminants+ and try Re-Everything for signs of aging. Can I?
The answer is a cautious “yes.” Combined actives = combined benefits BUT it is important to introduce each active very slowly.
- Get to 2x-a-day usage of one active product (no earlier than week 8 of therapy). For each new active you add, start once a week + slowly increase frequency until you achieve 1x or 2x-a-day usage — that’s 8 weeks or more per new active; all 3 active products together no earlier than week 24.
- It is crucial to use a pH-adjusted cleanser (Red Better, Id, Illuminants+, or Re-Everything) to prevent irritations, and an Armada Sun + Light Screen every day, indoors + out for protection + to reinforce therapy.
For more on combining different products, see Regimens: Using Products From Different Systems/Combining Different Actives in One Regimen
“I’ve got acne and while I’m pleasantly surprised that you asked me so many questions, I’m curious: how are things like my diet relevant?”
It is a misconception that skin care is limited to the skin. Psoriasis, for example, has several comorbidities like diabetes and arthritis and, like acne and contact dermatitis, it can be triggered by stress. It therefore needs to be managed systemically — ideally with a dermatologist, nutritionist and perhaps even a therapist working together.
Acne can be inflammatory acne from a diet rich in polyunsaturated oils (omega-6) which is commonly used in frying, junk foods, and processed foods like chips, candy, snacks, sodas, and pre-packaged fruit drinks.
When you ask us for a Skinvestment Plan or for recommendations at Ask VMV, or when you’re about to get a Vx Facial or Skin Service, we frequently ask questions about your diet, exercise, lifestyle, medications, family history, etc., to help us identify possible contraindications and make more relevant recommendations — including that you may need a proper diagnosis by a physician before trying any topical therapies.