Is your psoriasis condition flaring up frequently despite constant medication? Superficial treatments are a temporary solution and cannot prevent this chronic condition from recurring.
According to the time-tested Vedic texts, managing psoriasis symptoms with Ayurveda’s ancient remedies, helps treat the root cause of the condition and prevent trigger factors that are stimulating the inflammation.
Scroll down to know the types of psoriasis, its causes and best available treatments.
- What Is Psoriasis?
- What Are The Types Of Psoriasis?
- What Are The Main Causes Of Psoriasis?
- What Are The Symptoms Of Psoriasis?
- How To Diagnose Psoriasis?
- How To Cure Psoriasis Lesions?
- How To Prevent Psoriasis?
- What Are The Possible Complications Of Psoriasis?
- Frequently Asked Questions About Psoriasis
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic, non-transferrable skin condition that increases the growth rate (hyper-proliferation) of your skin cells causing inflamed, red, disfiguring, scaly lesions. Psoriasis can also cause psoriasis arthritis, which is an inflammation in the joints.
Psoriasis is grouped under papulosquamous diseases. Some studies claim that the condition might have a genetic influence, however, it is mainly suspected to be caused by immune dysfunction. A range of factors can trigger a psoriasis flare-up including stress.
Various comorbidities can exist in people diagnosed with psoriasis such as diabetes, obesity and possibly an increased risk of cardiovascular problems and stroke. Psoriasis often causes a change in appearance and therefore may have a psychological impact on patients.
A. Ayurvedic Perspective On Psoriasis
The ancient Ayurvedic text Caraka Samhita, speaks of a condition called ‘Kitibha’, which matches the description of psoriasis as per modern medicine. Other texts have referred to psoriasis as ‘Ekakustha’. The condition of Kitibha or psoriasis as a Kustha Roga (skin disease) is extensively dealt with in Ayurvedic literature.
According to Ayurveda, amongst the three doshas (bodily humors) that govern our physical and mental well being, vata and kapha dosha vitiations are responsible for psoriasis. Adhering to a strict Ayurvedic diet, treatment and lifestyle can prevent this condition from flaring up.
B. Psoriasis Statistics
According to reports, around 125 million or 2 to 3% of the total worldwide population is diagnosed with psoriasis. Amongst these, over 8 million people are Americans. In India 0.44 to 2.8% of the population have psoriasis, in which the condition is more prevalent amongst men than women.
What Are The Types Of Psoriasis?
1. Plaque Psoriasis Or Psoriasis Vulgaris
This type of psoriasis causes red, inflamed, painful patches of scaly (sometimes silver) lesions on your body. This is the most common type of psoriasis that affects patients. Plaque psoriasis can occur anywhere on your body such as the limbs, chest, scalp, elbows and knees. This may also cause your finger and toenails to thicken and come off.
2. Guttate Psoriasis
Guttate psoriasis is characterized by small, droplet-like red, inflamed lesions on the body. It affects a smaller percentage of patients when compared to the more common plaque psoriasis.
3. Inverse Psoriasis
This is a type of psoriasis that occurs in places where your skin folds such as under the breasts, buttocks, and groin areas. Unlike other types of psoriasis, inverse psoriasis does not cause scaly lesions. It is marked by patches of red, inflamed skin. The affected areas are painful and itchy and can get worse with sweat.
4. Pustular Psoriasis
Pustular psoriasis causes small, painful, white pus-filled lesions that may be spread all over the body. In some cases, the area around the pustules may be red and swollen.
5. Erythrodermic Psoriasis
Erythrodermic psoriasis is quite rare and severe and can affect the whole body. This type of psoriasis causes large zones of inflamed, red lesions which make the skin peel off in layers. Erythrodermic flares can be serious, causing an increase in heart rate, temperature and intense itching and pain.
Psoriasis is more common in people of light complexion and is less prevalent among people with darker skin tones.
What Are The Main Causes Of Psoriasis?
Though the exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, the below factors are suspected as possible causes and triggers for the condition.
1. Immune Dysfunctions
Your immune system is designed to fight any kind of pathogen intrusion or infection in the body. This is called the immune response. For people with psoriasis, the immune system perceives healthy skin cells as a threat. As a result, immune cells called T cells attack these healthy cells and signal other immune cells to create an inflammatory condition in the epidermis.
Owing to this, the body attempts to produce more healthy cells as part of the healing process. This leads to hyper proliferation of keratinocytes in your skin’s epidermal layer and is responsible for the inflamed, piled-up scaly plaques manifested in psoriasis.
2. Genetic Influence
Psoriasis may run in the family. Though genetic influence does not guarantee the inheritance of the condition, many diagnosed with it have reported family members who have psoriasis.
3. Weather Changes
Many patients have reported their psoriasis condition flaring up during winter . This may be attributed to the lack of UV rays of the sun. This is more common in countries that have cold winters. People in hot countries such as India often find psoriasis flare-ups in summer when the weather is hot and humid. According to dermatologists, excess heat and sweat can worsen the condition.
4. Skin Trauma
Certain patients with psoriasis may exhibit the Koebner phenomenon . In this, new psoriasis plaques appear in skin areas that have suffered an injury. Patients who show koebnerization, can develop new lesions in any body area including places that are often not affected such as the face. Previously koebner negative patients may turn koebner positive later in life.
5. Infections Or Other Medical Conditions
Any medical condition that involves an immune response can cause a psoriasis flare-up such as viral or bacterial infections. Strep throat caused by Streptococcus bacteria is known to trigger a type of psoriasis known as guttate psoriasis.
Recent studies show a connection between mental stress and psoriasis flare-ups. Stress releases certain chemicals in our body that can stimulate inflammation and thus a psoriasis flare-up. In most cases the onset of psoriasis causes stress, and stress further aggravates the psoriasis condition.
7. Drug Reactions
Certain types of drugs such as beta blockers which are used to relieve excess blood pressure can trigger your psoriasis condition. Lithium is another drug that can trigger your immune system, leading to a psoriasis flare-up.
The following causes can trigger Kitibha or psoriasis according to Ayurveda.
A. Virudha Ahara (Contradictory Foods)
Consumption of contradictory foods such as milk and banana, fish and curd can trigger psoriasis.
B. Excess Physical Exercise
Ayurveda advises against excess exercise for psoriasis patients. Excess heat and sweat during high energy physical activity can cause a psoriasis flare-up.
C. Violating Panchakarma Laws
The Panchakarma therapy in Ayurveda involves 5 Ayurvedic procedures that purifies your body and balances your doshas. While going through the panchakarma procedure, Ayurveda recommends strictly following the laws of panchakarma. Violations can trigger an existing psoriasis condition.
D. Wrong Diet
Certain dietary practices can upset the fine balance of doshas in your body. This may initiate a psoriasis flare-up. Such diet practices include eating uncooked food before the previous meal is digested. Drinking heavy drinks and consuming cold water immediately after sun exposure are other reasons.
What Are The Symptoms Of Psoriasis?
The symptoms of psoriasis are as follows:
- Silvery white scaly lesions
- Pain in affected skin areas
- Pain in the joints
- Skin peeling
- Small pus-filled bumps
- Skin and nail thickening
How To Diagnose Psoriasis?
Psoriasis does not have any special tests. Your doctor will be able to diagnose the condition by an analysis of your symptoms. However a skin biopsy might be a better way to confirm the condition.
How To Cure Psoriasis Lesions?
A. Lifestyle & Home Remedies
1. Healthy Diet
Omitting foods that cause inflammation can prevent psoriasis triggers. These include red and processed meats, sugary foods, oily foods, trans fats, and alcohol. The best foods for psoriasis are omega 3, nuts, salmon and other fatty fish and green leafy vegetables. Including these in your diet can help to treat existing psoriasis conditions.
2. Controlled Sun Exposure
While excess heat and sweat is not advisable for psoriasis, controlled sun exposure can keep flare-ups at bay. Sun baths are recommended for psoriasis patients especially in winter, a time when many experience psoriasis flare-ups.
3. Practise Anti- Stress Activities
Stress should strictly be avoided if you wish to manage your psoriasis. Practise anti-stress activities such as yoga, exercises, dance etc. to keep your stress levels low.
4. Avoid Smoking
Many studies have shown exposure to tobacco as a trigger factor for psoriasis. Smokers are even more likely to develop psoriasis compared to non-smokers.
5. Avoid Harsh Products
Avoid skincare products that contain harsh surfactants, fragrances, parabens and other chemicals. Such products can further irritate your skin and stimulate an allergic or inflammatory reaction.
Skin affected by psoriasis must be kept moisturized at all times. This helps reduce itchiness and inflammation caused by dryness. Aloe vera for psoriasis is a good natural moisturizer. Applying fresh aloe vera gel on psoriasis plaques can help soothe your skin and reduce redness and inflammation.
7. Salt & Oatmeal Wash
Epsom salt baths are often recommended for psoriasis conditions. It is known to reduce skin irritation and can gently exfoliate the psoriasis plaques. Colloidal oatmeal is another great psoriasis treatment. Oatmeal is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. Add oatmeal or epsom salt to your bath and soak in it for 15 to 20 minutes. Keep the water temperature low and avoid hot water baths.
8. Olive Oil
Applying olive oil on psoriasis affected skin is an effective treatment. Olive oil moisturizes and calms your skin. It also helps soften the scaly lesions making it easier to remove them. You can also add olive oil to your baths for an overall skin-calming effect.
9. Black Cumin Or Nigella Sativa
Black cumin or nigella sativa  is an excellent natural treatment for psoriasis plaques due to its anti-psoriatic property. In a research conducted to test the effects of nigella sativa on psoriasis, more than 50% patients showed complete cure of psoriasis plaques within a month. The patients were administered nigella sativa ointment and oral dosage for a period of 4 weeks.
Using cayenne pepper as a psoriasis treatment can help relieve pain and itch. Cayenne pepper is available as creams or you can make a paste of cayenne pepper at home, add olive or any other mineral oil and apply on the plaques.
B. Psoriasis Ayurvedic Treatment
Treatment for psoriasis or Kitibha/ Ekakustha aims to remove harmful Ama toxins from your body and restore the balance of doshas. With Shodhana (body purification) and Shaman (balancing aggravated doshas) at frequent intervals, psoriasis flare-ups can be prevented. Along with the psoriasis treatment, one must follow the Ayurveda recommended diet known as Pathya for holistic well being.
1. Vamana Therapy
The Vamana therapy  uses Vamaka herbs and oils to stimulate vomiting. This procedure of medicated vomiting is an excellent method of removing excess kapha dosha from the body. The most commonly used Ayurvedic medication for treating psoriasis through Vamana is Madanaphala Pippali.
2. Virechana Therapy
In the Virechana therapy , purgatives are given for detoxification of the body, removal of excess pitta and cleansing of liver and colon toxins. The removal of excess pitta and toxins help reduce redness and inflammation in psoriasis. The treatment may continue for 3 to 7 days based on the requirement of the patient.
Usually Virechana treatment is followed by abhyanga or full body massage. This improves blood circulation and helps balance dosha vitiations in your skin. The following oils are used for psoriasis treatment.
- Nimbadi oil
- Psoramet oil
4. Takra dhara
This is a gold standard ayurvedic panchakarma treatment for Psoriasis. The procedure involves pouring sour buttermilk (high lactic acid) processed with Amalaki churna on the entire body. Takra dhara heals the psoriasis patches quickly and provides long standing relief. Since Psoriasis is Yapya (controllable) and not Sadhya ( curable), the procedure needs to be repeated at least twice a year.
5. Ayurvedic Herbs
Turmeric contains curcumin, a natural compound that reduces inflammation. Turmeric is also anti-bacterial and prevents infections that may trigger a psoriasis condition.
Nimba has both anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that boost the healing of psoriasis plaques.
Triphala is often administered as an oral medication for treating psoriasis due to its amazing ability to cleanse the body.
The ancient herb guduchi is a widely used remedy for a number of skin conditions including psoriasis. Its antioxidant and immune boosting properties help reduce hyperproliferation of skin cells caused by immune dysfunction.
Patol (pointed gourd) is an antioxidant herb that helps balance pitta and kapha doshas in the body. Patol is used to reduce itching sensations in skin affected by psoriasis. It is also an amazing blood purifier.
The medicinal herb nidigdhika is also known as Kantkari. Its histamine suppressing properties help reduce itching caused by psoriasis.
6. Ayurvedic Medication
A. Trikatu Churna
Trikatu churna is an ancient ayurvedic medicine used to treat a variety of health problems such as skin diseases, infections, digestion and others. As the name suggests, it combines the power of three (tri) special Ayurvedic herbs- pipali, black pepper and shunti (ginger).
It helps relieve excess vata dosha from the body. Trikatu churna is administered during psoriasis treatment to heal inflammation, reduce pain and boost immunity.
B. Panchatikta Ghrita Guggulu
The panchatikta ghrita guggulu is a medicinal ghee containing the goodness of five bitter Ayurvedic herbs. It is mainly used in the treatment of skin diseases such as psoriasis. The five herbs included are patol, nimba, guduchi, vasa and vyaghri. It reduces pitta-caused inflammation and relieves joint pain caused by psoriasis arthritis.
Corticosteroids are the most frequently prescribed medication for treating psoriasis. They help reduce inflammation by regulating chemicals that cause the inflammatory response in your body. Corticosteroids also check hyperactivity of the immune system. These are available as topical creams. However, long term usage of steroids creams are not recommended as it can cause skin thinning.
2. Coal Tar
Coal tars are effective treatments for itchiness, pain and inflammation. They also reduce the formation of scales. However these may cause skin irritations. They are also not safe for use during pregnancy and for lactating mothers.
3. Vitamin D
Synthetically produced Vitamin D may be administered to slow down hyper keratinization in psoriasis. They are often used in combination with other psoriasis treatments.
Retinoids are good exfoliators that help remove psoriasis plaques. These are available over the counter or may be prescribed. However retinoids may cause skin sensitivity and irritation.
Hydroxyurea is prescribed to treat plaque psoriasis. Due to its anti-psoriatic and antiviral properties, it is often administered to HIV patients who are suffering from psoriasis .
Anthralin is available in cream form and is used to decrease the rate of skin cell growth in psoriasis. It also has an exfoliative effect on skin and helps remove scales and plaques. Anthralin is not recommended for long term use or use in sensitive areas such as the face or genitals.
Methotrexate is an oral medicine used in cancer and psoriasis treatments. It prevents rapid cell proliferations. However, methotrexate is only prescribed when the condition is not responding to other psoriasis treatments. This drug is known to have some serious side effects such as liver damage, lung damage and others.
Biologics are powerful drugs that may be prescribed if other psoriasis treatments fail to cure the condition. It controls or suppresses inflammatory responses by the immune system that leads to psoriasis flare-ups.
D. Phototherapy For Psoriasis Treatment
Since exposure to optimum amounts of sunlight has shown to benefit psoriasis conditions, phototherapy exposes psoriasis affected skin to UV light under medical supervision. Below mentioned are the two types of phototherapy that your dermatologist may prescribe.
Ultraviolet B rays possess the ability to penetrate into the skin and slow down excess cell growth in psoriasis. In this therapy, the skin is exposed to UVB light for a set amount of time. The two types of UVB phototherapy are broadband UVB and narrowband UVB.
2. Psoralen & UVA (PUVA)
Psoralen is a medication used to sensitize your skin to UVA radiation. Psoralen cream is applied on the psoriasis affected areas or taken orally and then the lesions are exposed to artificial UVA light. The PUVA treatment also helps to slow down skin cell growth and prevent psoriasis symptoms.
Vedix Tip: Use black cumin (nigella sativa), ginger and garlic in your daily food preparations to keep psoriasis from flaring-up.
How To Prevent Psoriasis?
1. Avoid consumption of foods that cause inflammation. Consume a healthy diet that keeps inflammation at bay.
2. Maintain optimum body weight. Some studies show a connection between obesity and psoriasis.
3. Avoid smoking and intake of alcohol.
4. Keep a body mist or moisturizer handy to prevent skin dryness. Psoriasis lesions may get itchy if the skin is dry.
5. Avoid physically challenging activities that cause excess heat and sweat in the body.
6. Avoid cold weather or spending too long in air conditioned places.
7. Get enough sunlight.
8. Avoid skin injuries that may trigger a psoriasis flare-up. People with an existing history of psoriasis must avoid treatments like acupuncture. Body piercings and tattoos are also better avoided.
9. Live a stress-free life.
10. Visit an Ayurvedic doctor to get your doshas diagnosed and have a better understanding of your psoriasis trigger factors.
How To Prevent Psoriasis From Spreading?
The best way to prevent the spread of psoriasis is by knowing what triggers the flare-up. A quick start of treatment can suppress and heal psoriasis plaques and prevent its spread.
What Are The Possible Complications Of Psoriasis?
- People who have more than 10% of their body covered in psoriasis are more inclined to develop psoriasis arthritis, a severe inflammation of the joints.
- They also run the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Other complications that can arise in patients diagnosed with psoriasis are heart and liver diseases.
- The patient’s mental well being may also be affected. According to reports, many people with psoriasis suffer from depression.
Frequently Asked Questions About Psoriasis
1. What Does Psoriasis Look Like When It Starts?
When a psoriasis flare-up begins, red, inflamed, scaly patches are likely to appear. Small pustules can also start spreading in skin areas affected by the condition. Lesions tend to be itchy and painful. A psoriasis flare-up may be accompanied by other symptoms such as a spike in body temperature and/ or joint pain (psoriasis arthritis).
2. Where Is Psoriasis Most Commonly Found?
Psoriasis most commonly affects knees, elbows, limbs, scalp, palms, soles and the face. Inverse psoriasis affects creases and folds in your body such as the buttocks, groin areas, and under the arms.
3. Is Psoriasis Contagious?
Psoriasis is not contagious. It is an auto-immune disease that cannot be transferred through contact.
4. Is Psoriasis Curable Or Not?
Psoriasis flare-ups can be prevented and kept at bay for months and even years with proper Ayurvedic lifestyle, diet and treatment. Understanding the trigger factors for your psoriasis can prevent the condition from flaring up. However, there is yet no permanent cure for psoriasis.
The Last Word
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition and requires long-term treatment. To prevent psoriasis inflammation one must lead a disciplined life along with Ayurvedic treatments at regular intervals. Understanding your trigger factors and knowing your Prakriti (body constitution) further helps to keep the condition at bay.Know Your Dosha Now
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