Psoriasis Incidence Rises, Patients Take Control Over Health

by Jacqueline Ho Content Producer

Cases of psoriasis continue to rise around the world, and many experts believe the condition needs to be taken more seriously as a public health issue. For instance, participants at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology discussed the need for better psoriasis treatments worldwide and also getting psoriasis recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a serious disease. That meeting coincided with a paper by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that was published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. The paper further reinforced the message that psoriasis needs more research and data collection. The full CDC paper can be read here.

Annual incidence of psoriasis nearly doubled between the 1970s and the year 2000, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Overall annual incidence of psoriasis over time (per 100,000)

The findings showed that the overall annual incidence increased from 50.8 per 100,000 between 1970 and 1974, to 00.5 per 100,000 between 1995 and 1999.

Even though there have been notable improvements in treatment for psoriasis, many patients are trying to deal with their condition with alternative treatments, such as diet, exercise, herbal remedies and mind-and-body therapies.

Although there’s no substantial scientific evidence linking diet and psoriasis, studies are increasingly showing how dietary changes may affect certain inflammatory diseases. As such, many people with psoriasis have been following an anti-inflammatory diet. This means staying away from fatty red meats, dairy products, processed foods, refined sugars, and “nightshade” vegetables, such as potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers. Conversely, foods that seem to lower inflammation and should be included in a patient’s diet include cold-water fish high in omega-3s, such as salmon, mackerel, lake trout, and albacore tuna, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and, colorful fruits and vegetables, such as mangoes, strawberries, squash, spinach, kale, and carrots.

Exercise, another alternative therapy for people living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, is very important for overall health, especially in keeping off excess weight and lowering the risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, which can worsen psoriasis. U.S. fitness guidelines recommend you get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times a week, plus additional strength training. If this is a problem, especially for those with psoriatic arthritis, spread your activity out during the day with three 10-minute blocks of moderate to vigorous activity, or begin your exercise program in a pool.

Herbal remedies are another avenue people living with psoriasis may want to explore; however, some herbal remedies can cause dangerous interactions with medications, so be sure to check with your doctor before trying anything new. Some topical herbal treatments include aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, capsaicin, Dead Sea salts, oats, Oregon grape, and tea tree oil.

One of the most important things someone with psoriasis can do to control her condition is to reduce stress levels. Stress is a proven trigger for psoriasis in some people, so it’s important to learn techniques to control it in everyday life. Some techniques include aromatherapy, mediation, mindfulness, and spa therapy.

Treatment of psoriasis may come in many forms, and it’s important for the patient to find what works for his or her particular condition. It’s important to keep trying until one finds the best combination.

Jacqueline Ho
Meet Our Writer
Jacqueline Ho

Jacqueline is a former content producer for HealthCentral. She is a multimedia journalist with a bachelor's degree in English Literature and a master's in Broadcast Journalism and Public Affairs.