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Dealing With Psoriasis.

Psoriasis Awareness Month:  August.

How Can Psoriasis Be Managed?

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER) suggests a diet rich in:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Lean meats and fish

**Fish oil may improve psoriasis symptoms**

  • Provides polysaturated fatty acids needed to maintain healthy skin.

The American Academy of Dermatology suggests the following:

  • Learn about treatment options – This helps you make informed decisions.
  • Take care of yourself – Eat a healthy diet, exercise, don’t smoke, and drink little alcohol.
  • Be aware of your joints – Stiff or sore joints can be the first sign of psoriatic arthritis when you already suffer from psoriasis.
  • Notice your nails – Nails pulling away from the nailbed, developing pitting or ridges, or a yellowish-orange color are signs of psoriatic arthritis.
  • Pay attention to your mood – watch for signs of depression.
  • Talk to your dermatologist before discontinuing medications – Stopping psoriasis medicine cold turkey can have serious consequences.

Managing Psoriasis ITCH:

  • “Psoriasis” comes from the Greek word “psora” that means “to itch”.
  • Itch is present in 70-90% of psoriasis cases.
  • Psoriatic itch is different than that of other skin conditions.
    • Described by some as a burning sensation.
    • Others say it feels like being bitten by fire ants.
  • Psoriasis can have both itch and pain.
    • Itch and pain signals travel different pathways in the spinal cord.
  • Psoriasis itch can occur in areas that do not have psoriasis lesions.
  • Psoriasis itch often follows an itch-scratch cycle.
    • Scratching can trigger the Koebner phenomenon, in which skin injuries trigger a psoriasis flare.
    • Scratching can cause breaks in the skin, flaking, and bleeding that can worsen symptoms.
    • The worsening of psoriasis symptoms can then trigger the itch again.

Home Remedies to Reduce Psoriasis Itch:

  • Keep skin moisturized.
  • Reduce scaling and flaking – exfoliate gently.
  • Cold showers and cooling products
    • cold packs
    • compresses
    • refrigerated lotions
    • warm to cool (not hot) showers
    • cold can help relieve the itch

Prescription Treatments to Reduce Psoriasis Itch:

Effective treatment of psoriasis can reduce lesions, stop itch-scratch cycle symptoms, and reduce irritation and pain.

  • Biologics are found to be more effective than topical treatments because they are able to reduce itch signals to the brain.
  • Other prescription treatments specifically help with itch:
    • topical or oral antihistamines
    • phototherapy
    • topical corticosteroids (steroids)
    • topical anesthetics

Stress and Psoriasis Itch:

Stress is known as a common trigger of psoriasis and can worsen symptoms of itch.

  • Take part in enjoyable hobbies and activities.
  • Change unhealthy lifestyle habits.
  • Say “no” to new responsibilities that may cause stress.
  • Try meditation, mindfulness, or relaxation methods.
  • Consider adding stress-reduction exercises to your routine.

 

Psoriasis Isn’t Contagious – But Awareness Should Be.

Psoriasis Awareness Month:  August

RAISE AWARENESS.  EDUCATE THE PUBLIC.  DISPELL THE MYTHS.

What Is Psoriasis?

  • Chronic (lifelong), non contagious, genetic, autoimmune disease.
  • Appears on the skin in red, scaly patches that itch, crack, and bleed.
  • The most common autoimmune disease in the country.
  • Affects approximately 7.5 million Americans.
  • Up to 30% with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis – an inflammatory type of arthritis.
    • Psoriatic arthritis – causes pain and swelling of joints and tendons.
  • Psoriasis can develop slowly with mild symptoms or quickly with severe symptoms.
  • Can occur on any part of the body.

What Causes Psoriasis?

  • Genetics and the immune system.
  • Th immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth of skin cells in people with psoriasis.
  • To develop psoriasis a person must have the genes that cause it and be exposed to external “triggers”.
  • Triggers include:
    • Stress
    • Injury to the skin (tattoo, scrape)
    • Smoking
    • Certain infections
    • Medications
    • Other possible triggers – allergies, diet, weather
  • There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are many treatment options.

Treatments for Psoriasis:

  • Biologics – typically prescribed for moderate to severe psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.  Given by injection or IV infusion.
  • Systemics – also typically prescribed for moderate to severe psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.  Drugs are taken orally or by injection and work throughout the body.
  • Phototherapy – light therapy that exposes the skin to UV light on a regular basis under medical supervision.
  • New oral treatments – inhibit specific molecules associated with inflammation.  Can be effectively delivered as oral tablets.
  • Topicals – applied to the skin and are often the first treatment for a newly diagnosed person.
  • Complementary & alternative medicine – CAM is a group of diverse medical and healthcare systems, practices, and products not presently considered to be a part of conventional (Western) medicine.

The Physical & Emotional Effects of Psoriasis:

  • Psoriasis is often misunderstood.
  • People with psoriasis often face discrimination because others incorrectly fear it is contagious.
  • Studies show that people with psoriasis report higher levels of anxiety, embarrassment, and depression.
  • More than half of study respondents said psoriasis impacts their ability to enjoy life.
  • Psoriasis increase the risk of other serious health conditions including:
    • heart disease
    • heart attack
    • stroke
    • diabetes
    • Crohn’s disease
    • hypertension
    • obesity
    • depression

The Types & Symptoms of Psoriasis:

  • There are 5 main psoriasis types.
  • Symptoms can differ for each type.
  • People with psoriasis may have more than 1 type.
  • You can have different types at different times.

Plaque psoriasis:

  • The most common.
  • Appears as patches of inflamed, itchy, and painful skin with scales.
    • For some the skin may be red with silvery white scales.
    • For some the skin may look purple in color.
  • Plaques most often appear on the scalp, knees, elbows, in/around the belly button, and lower back – but can occur anywhere.

Inverse psoriasis:

  • The second most common.
  • Appears as inflamed, red skin that is smooth and not scaly.
  • Affects body folds such as underarms, under the breasts, in the genital area, and buttocks.
  • Can cause severe itching and pain and can be worsened by sweat and rubbing in the areas.

Guttate psoriasis:

  • The 3rd most common.
  • Appears as small, round, red spots caused by inflammation that are scaly and raised.
  • Often appears on arms, legs, and torso – but can affect any body area.

Pustular psoriasis:

  • A more rare type.
  • Appears as pustules – pus-filled, painful bumps – that may be surrounded by inflamed or reddened skin.
    • These pustules are filled with non-infectious pus.
    • Not caused by infection & not contagious.
    • Pustular psoriasis may appear only on certain areas of the body such as the hands/feet, or may cover most of the body.

Erythrodermic psoriasis:

  • Most rare of the types.
  • Causes intense redness and shedding of skin layers in large sheets.
  • Often affects the entire body and can be life-threatening.
  • Other symptoms include severe itching and pain, changes in heart rate and temperature, dehydration, and nail changes.
  • See a healthcare provider immediately if you believe you are having an erythrodermic flare.

More information at www.psoriasis.org/navigationcenter

Why Choose to Immunize?

National Immunization Awareness Month:  August

Disease are becoming rare due to vaccinations.

  • Some disease are becoming very rare in the U.S., it is true (like polio and diphtheria).
  • They are becoming rare, though, largely because we have been vaccinating against them.
  • It is reasonable to ask where it’s really worthwhile to keep vaccinating…

Keep immunizing until disease is eliminated.

  • Unless we can eliminate the disease, it is important to keep immunizing.
  • Even if there are only a few cases of disease today, if the protection of vaccination is taken away – more and more will get infected and the disease will spread.
  • By stopping vaccinations we could potentially undo the progress we have made over the years.

What if we reduce, or stop, vaccinating?

  • Japan reduced pertussis vaccinations and an epidemic occurred.
    • Rumors spread that pertussis vaccination was no longer needed and not safe and by 1976, only 10% of infants were getting vaccinated.
    • In 1979, Japan suffered a major pertussis epidemic – with more than 13,000 cases of whooping cough and 41 deaths.
    • In 1981, the government began vaccinating with acellular pertussis, and the number of cases dropped again.
  • If we stopped vaccinating in the U.S. disease that are almost unknown today would stage a comeback.
  • We would begin to see epidemics of diseases nearly under control.
  • More children would get sick, and more would die.

Vaccinate to protect the future.

  • By continuing to vaccinate against disease, we can one day eradicate them (like small pox).
    • Children now do not need small pox shots because the disease no longer exists.
  • If we continue to vaccinate against other diseases, the same will someday be true for them, as well.
  • Vaccinations are the best way to put an end to the serious effects of certain diseases.

The Basics on Immunizations.

National Immunization Awareness Month:  August

Defining the Terms:

Immunity:  Protection from an infectious disease.  If you are immune to a disease, you can be exposed without becoming infected.

Vaccine:  A product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease.

  • Vaccines are usually administered through needle injections, but can also be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose.

Vaccination:  The act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease.

Immunization:  A process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination.  This term is often used interchangeably with vaccination or inoculation.

The Process of Immunity:

  • Immunity to a disease is achieved through the presence of antibodies to that disease in a person’s system.
  • Antibodies are proteins produced by the body to neutralize or destroy toxins or disease-carrying organisms.
  • Antibodies are disease-specific –
    • For example, measles antibody will protect a person who is exposed to measles disease, but will have no effect if he/she is exposed to mumps.

Types of Immunity:

ACTIVE

  • Results when exposure to a disease organism triggers the immune system to produce antibodies to that disease.
  • Exposure to the disease organism can occur through infection with the actual disease (resulting in natural immunity), or introduction of a killed or weakened form of the disease organism through vaccination (vaccine-induced immunity).
  • Either way, if an immune person comes in contact with that disease in the future, their immune system will recognize it and immediately produce the antibodies needed to fight it.
  • Active immunity is long-lasting, and sometimes is life-long.

PASSIVE

  • Provided when a person is given antibodies to a disease rather than producing them through his/her own immune system.
  • A newborn baby acquires passive immunity from its mother through the placenta.
  • A person can also get passive immunity through antibody-containing blood products, such as immune globulin.
    • Immune globulin may be given when immediate protection from a specific disease is needed.
    • This is the major advantage to passive immunity; protection is immediate, whereas active immunity takes time (usually several weeks) to develop.
  • Passive immunity only lasts for a few weeks or months.  Only active immunity is long-lasting.

 

Measles.

National Immunization Awareness Month:  August

How Much Do You Know About Measles?

  • Measles is one of the most contagious diseases.  TRUE
  • Measles is never serious.  FALSE
  • Measles is still common in some parts of the world. – TRUE
  • Measles vaccine saves lives. – TRUE
  • Adults cannot get measles vaccine. – FALSE

Some Not So Measly MEASLE Facts:

  • Measles spreads very easily through the air when an infected person breathes, coughs, or sneezes.
  • If you have measles, up to 90% of the people who are in close contact with you (who are not protected against measles) will get the disease – it is that contagious!
  • Measles can stay in the air for up to two hours.
    • You can get measles simply by being in a room where an infected person was.
  • Measles can cause serious health complications such as pneumonia, brain damage, deafness, and even death.
  • About 1 to 3 out of 1,000 children in the U.S. who get measles will die from the disease – even with the best care.
  • Measles is still common in many parts of the world.
    • Each year an estimated 10 million people are affected by measles – and it kills about 110,000 people around the world.
  • In the U.S., the disease is still brought into the country by unvaccinated people (mostly U.S. residents) who get infected while travelling abroad.
  • Measles vaccine is very effective at protecting people against measles and the complications it causes.
  • Adults born during or after 1957 who haven’t had measles or have never been vaccinated should get at least one dose of measles vaccine.

Immunizations Throughout The Years.

National Immunization Awareness Month:  August

  • Vaccination is a highly effective, easy way to keep your family healthy.
  • On-time vaccination throughout childhood is essential because it helps provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.
  • Vaccines are tested to ensure that they are safe and effective for children to receive at the recommended ages.

When are Vaccinations Recommended?

  • Pregnancy
  • Birth to Age 2 (Infant & Toddler Years)
  • Ages 3 to 10 (Preschool & Elementary Years)
  • Ages 11 to 18 (Preteen & Teen Years)
  • Adulthood

Immunizations – Before & During Pregnancy:

  • Can help you pass along immunity to your baby that will help protect them from some diseases during the first few months after birth.
  • Vaccines given before pregnancy may also help protect you from serious disease while you are pregnant, which can cause miscarriages and birth defects.

Recommended Vaccinations:

  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) vaccine
  • Yearly seasonal flu vaccine

Immunizations – Infant & Toddler Years:

  • Given during the ages between birth and 2 years.
  • Vaccination helps to give infants and toddlers a healthy start.
  • More than 1 dose is necessary for many vaccines to build and boost immunity.
  • Because influenza viruses are constantly changing, and the body’s response declines over time, everyone over the age of 6 months needs a flu shot every year.

Recommended Vaccinations (Check with your doctor or the CDC for ages):

  • Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, & pertussis (Tdap) vaccine
  • Flu vaccine
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine
  • Hepatitis A vaccine
  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • Pneumococcal (PCV13) vaccine
  • Polio (IPV) vaccine
  • Rotavirus (RV) vaccine

Immunizations – Preschool & Elementary School Years:

  • Given during the ages between 3 to 10 years.
  • Your child needs additional doses of some vaccines from ages 3 to 6.
  • You may need a certificate of immunization to enroll your child in school.

Recommended Vaccinations:

  • Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine
  • Flu vaccine
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • Polio (IPV) vaccine

Immunizations – Preteen & Teen Years:

  • Given during the ages of 11 to 18.
  • As protection from childhood vaccines wears off, adolescents need additional vaccines to extend protection.
  • Adolescents need protection from additional infections, as well, before the risk of exposure increases.
  • As your child heads to college, make sure all vaccinations are up to date and he or she has a copy of all immunization records.
  • If your child travels outside of the United States, check if he or she needs additional vaccines.

Recommended Vaccinations:

  • Flu vaccine
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine
  • Serogrouop B meningococcal vaccine
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine

Immunizations – Into Adulthood:

  • Everyone should get a flu vaccine every year before the end of October, if possible.
  • Adults need a TD (Tetanus-diphtheria) vaccine every 10 years.
  • Healthy adults, 50 years and older, should get the shingles vaccine.
  • Adults 65 years or older need 1 dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine followed by 1 dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.
    • Adults younger than 65 who have certain health conditions (like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or HIV) should also get one or both of these vaccines.
  • Adults may need other vaccines based on health conditions, job, lifestyle, or travel habits.

Learn more at www.cdc.gov/vaccines