Which Exercise is Best For My Skin Condition?

Which Exercise is Best For My Skin Condition?

Written by Phillip Bayer BHSc.Nat

As practitioners we see many patients wanting to incorporate optimal dietary and lifestyle habits in order to improve their skin health. Exercise is certainly an important part of a healthy routine to support chronic skin disease, not only to enhance physical wellbeing, but also for the mental benefits as well. When it comes to your skin health, the type of exercise and the environment you are exercising in are equally as important. See my below tips on which exercise is best for different skin conditions, to help you increase your fitness without the flaring.

Urticaria

If you have a heat-induced urticaria, avoid all forms of hot (intense) exercise and stick to very gentle exercise in the cool time of the day, being careful to remain within your limits to avoid exacerbating the flare. Opt for low intensity where the heart rate does not exceed approximately 110 BPM

Eczema

For eczemas and other allergic conditions where there is an inhalant allergy to pollen/ dust/ grasses and/or native plants, particular care must be taken to avoid exercise during pollination/ spring and when the wind is blowing. Exposure to those allergens may exacerbate your flare-up. During those times, exercising indoors may be a better option. Keep your windows and doors closed.

Psoriasis

In psoriasis, avoid exercise which may press or rub on lesions on contact points of the body, such as the elbows or the knees. Examples can include contact sports, weights or rowing (if hands are affected) and exercises that may involve helmets (if the hairline or scalp are affected). Friction and injury can both induce and exacerbate psoriasis lesions due to what is referred to as the Koebner Phenomenon.

If your skin is flaring but the lesions are not very red/ burning or very itchy, you can increase the intensity of exercise but again be careful to exercise in the cool time of the day and avoid strong direct sunshine on the skin. Chronic plaque psoriasis can often occur alongside comorbidities such as obesity and cardiovascular disease and therefore cardiovascular exercise can be very beneficial.

It is best to avoid swimming in chlorinated pools during a flare of any skin condition, but you may find swimming in the sea or a mineral pool helpful.

As always, listen to your body and discontinue exercise if your skin starts to feel worse – know your limits.

Skin Flaring? Keep your cool

Heat can be a common trigger of skin flaring and itching.

As a general rule, stick to doing exercise in the coolest time of the day, such as early morning or early evening when the sun is low.

If you are having an acute flare of your condition, and your skin is red, hot, burning or intensely itchy, abstain from heavy cardiovascular exercise. If you feel up to it, a gentle walk or stretching exercises such as yoga or Pilates is more suitable during this time. Avoid tight fitness wear where possible and opt for loose fitting clothes instead.

A cool shower or bath after exercise is a good way to cool down quickly and limit the risk of exacerbating your condition. Using a fan during exercise if the ambient temperature is warm can also help.

Autumn Newsletter 2021

Autumn Newsletter 2021

Wow – what a rollercoaster!

Since checking in with you last the clinic has been open, closed and open again! No matter what comes our way in 2021, we are pleased to offer our patients consistency of care via our Telehealth and postal services. This has provided convenience and flexibility during lockdowns but also helps us to care for our distance patients around Australia and the globe, from Ireland all the way to Qatar.

For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, we hope you have all had a restful summer, with some time to recuperate from 2020, For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, we hope you are keeping safe and warm as this cold snap passes through.

At the PEC, we now look towards Autumn, a transition season which allows us to prepare for the more extreme changes of weather to come. The theme of this months newsletter is therefore PREPARATION. If your skin typically flares in the winter or summer, now is the time to take preventative steps to build and strengthen your immunity and skin barrier function. A combination of self care, a great topical therapy routine (we have you covered) and functional foods (see below tips) should see you fully prepared for a healthy and happy Autumn/winter season.

Jessica Simonis – PEC Practitioner/Manager

Functional Foods for Stronger Immunity

If you have skin disease, then you also have immune imbalance. Your immune system, when in good health, is your defense against injury (think scratching), toxins and infection. In chronic inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea and eczema, your immune system is chronically activated against a perceived or actual threat. This constant state of activation increases the demand for energy and nutrients, making it even more important to consume a balanced, nutrient-rich diet in order to support optimal immune cell function.

Functional foods are foods that have demonstrated positive health effects, beyond basic nutrition. They can promote enhancement of well-being, improve quality of life and/or reduce risk of disease. Best of all they are foods which can (and should) be consumed as part of your everyday diet.

Here are our top 3 functional food suggestions to get your immune system in top shape this Autumn.

1) Dietary fibre –Found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrains, dietary fibre supports the immune system by helping to regulate intestinal bacterial balance and gut barrier function. This has shown to reduce allergic inflammation (great for eczema)

2) Home grown fruit and veg – Nothing tastes quite as good as your own home-grown food. Not only is it rewarding to spend time in nature, but home grown food is also free of herbicides and pesticides. It also hasn’t been frozen, cooked or radiated. In other words, it is in its natural state with all the beneficial nutrients and microbes to help encourage a diverse microbiome and healthy immune system. Eat a mix of raw and cooked plant foods for full benefits.

3) Eat ‘Mediterranean style’ – There is a reason why the Mediterranean Diet is one of the most researched diets for inflammatory conditions. With a focus on plant oils, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fish, this diet is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds including essential fatty acids and polyphenols. NB Skip the red wine and tomatoes if your skin is itchy!

Make it your goal to eat more immune building, functional foods this Autumn

Meet our newest team member – Susan!

We feel very lucky to have Susan join us as part of the PEC Team. She brings with her a great deal of warmth and empathy, as well as a wealth of knowledge from her many years of experience as a qualified natural health practitioner and educator. Susan will be working in reception and dispensary.

Product Special- 5 + 1 FREE

Our Moisturising Bar has been one of our most popular clinic products for decades and has more recently become a top seller through our Soratinex OTC range – no surprises there. If you haven’t tried it, you are seriously missing out.

Soratinex Moisturizing Bar is a gentle soap and shampoo alternative, perfect for those with sensitive skin of the body and scalp. Rich in natural oils and antioxidants, this luxurious Bar gently cleanses whilst nourishing the hair and skin. Contains Vitamin E, Lavender oil, Sweet almond oil, Evening Primrose oil, Avocado oil and Chamomile Oil. Clinical trials have shown these ingredients help promote the healing of dry, rough and flaky skin.

We have a 5+ 1 Free offer on this product, only available through clinic purchases. Replace your current body wash/soap with the Moisturising bar and you will help improve your skins lipid profile and reduce dryness as you prepare for weather changes ahead.

Purchase in clinic or place your order by phone – 03) 9770 5337 or email – info@psoriasiseczema.com.au.

Key Dates to Remember

  • Monday 8th March – Clinic Closed for Labour Day
  • Friday 2nd April – Clinic closed for Good Friday
  • Monday 5th April – Clinic closed for Easter Monday

How does collagen help skin health?

How does collagen help skin health?

Jessica Simonis – Nutritionist and Western Herbalist

Collagen is a protein and a vital ‘building-block’ of skin and joints. For this reason has become a popular supplement in the health and beauty industry. So how does collagen help with skin health? In today’s blog we will break down the facts about collagen and whether this latest craze is really worth the hype.

Skin benefits of collagen

Translating to the word “glue” in Greek, collagen has been well known for its role in tissue renewal and wound repair for many years. Some other skin benefits of collagen can include;

  • improved skin structure
  • Improved skin hydration
  • Improved skin elasticity

For those with chronic skin conditions, wound repair is an important part of healing and therefore optimal nutrition is essential to help restore healthy barrier function. Whilst collagen supplementation is lacking research in regards to specific skin conditions, having enough protein in your diet to support healthy skin function is a good place to start.

How do you know if you are getting enough collagen?

The human body has the ability to self-regulate collagen production. Therefore, a healthy individual will typically have enough collagen to maintain good skin and joint health, simply by eating a healthy balanced diet. However, during times of increased emotional and/or physical stress, the body’s ability to supply enough collagen can be impaired. *For other ways in which stress can affect your nutrition – see here.

Other factors that can increase demand in collagen can include:

  • Low protein diets
  • Conditions affecting digestion or absorption (eg. coeliac disease)
  • Certain medications (eg. antacids or protein pump inhibitors)
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • If you have a chronic, inflammatory skin or joint condition which requires ongoing repair

If you say yes to any of the above, chances are you could do with some extra collagen.

So, should you join the collagen powder craze?

Not necessarily.

Collagen proteins come from both animal and plant sources and therefore a balanced diet, rich in proteins will generally supply you with what you need. One of the richest sources of collagen is bone broth, a traditional food that is both nourishing and restoring. The perfect remedy for skin repair!

For vegetarians and vegans, it is recommended to eat a balanced diet including legumes, nuts, seeds and dairy (if tolerated). Where diet is insufficient, spirulina is a great supplement rich in vitamins, minerals and plant proteins. *See here for more science behind the health benefits of spirulina.

To conclude, collagen forms plays an important role in skin health and adequate amounts of collagen can be obtained by consuming a healthy balanced diet. In cases where diet is inadequate or demand is high, dietary supplements such as spirulina or collagen powders may be of benefit.

For the best advice on natural psoriasis and eczema treatments in Melbourne, contact our friendly reception staff on 03) 9770 5337.

Stress & The Effects on the Skin

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It has been established in recent years that the skin is a direct target of psychological stress via a cascade of hormones, neuropeptides, and neurogenic signals (causing nerve hypersensitivity and inflammation). The skin has been shown to be capable of launching its own local response to stress as well by producing many of the same substances that the brain produces, further enhancing the local effect at the skin level when someone is under acute or prolonged stress. It is no surprise that the skin can perceive and respond to stress similar to the brain and nervous system, since the two systems have evolved from the same germ layer during embryonic development.

The main skin cells (keratinocytes), mast cells (involved in allergy type reactions and inflammation), immune cells, and peripheral nerve endings all will have an effect on various cell behaviour and processes within the skin under stress that can lead to skin disruption, premature ageing and disease development.

The skin is rich in nerve endings, so when an individual is stressed the peripheral nerve endings secrete numerous substances such as Substance P and Nerve growth factor that contribute to hypersensitivity, inflammation, and allergic reactions.

Due to the impact of stress related hormones and peptides, and growth factors on the skin, stress can play a role in the development and exacerbation of skin disorders such as Eczema, Acne, Psoriasis, and Rosacea.

Psychological stress activates the autonomic nervous system to trigger release of catecholamines [e.g. epinephrine and norepinephrine] from the adrenal glands, and in situations of chronic stress corticotrophin releasing hormone [CRH] and ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), mediate a release of glucocorticoids (Cortisol) from the adrenal cortex.

Here is a brief outline of some key stress mediators and the effect that they have on the skin:

Glucocorticoids:

Excess levels can cause atrophy and impaired wound healing by interfering with keratinocyte and fibroblast function. Keratinocytes are the primary skin cells that form the epidermis of the skin, and fibroblasts are responsible for collagen and elastin formation.

This manifests as atrophy and thinning of the skin, increased trans-epidermal water loss related to disruption to the skin permeability barrier, and easy bruising with impaired wound healing.

The skin barrier is also negatively impacted by excess cortisol as this effects the lamellar bodies in the skin cells which are responsible for lipid synthesis; the lack of essential lipids weakens the barrier resulting in dry skin, allergies and sensitivity, delayed healing and infections.

Insulin:

Excess glucocorticoids stimulate Insulin production and lead to insulin excess and Insulin resistance. Elevated Insulin stimulates IGF2 (Insulin growth factor) which increases growth of keratinocytes, and stimulates abnormal keratinocyte growth, (exacerbates Psoriasis and Acne) and increases androgens and testosterone release.

Substance P:

This is neuropeptide released in times of stress. Substance P stimulates sebaceous germinative cells and proliferation of sebaceous glands which results in excess oil production and blockage of the oil ducts and the development of acne. Substance P also activates mast cells, increasing histamine release and itch sensation. Substance P induces vascular permeability and inflammation, which aggravates conditions like Eczema and Rosacea.

Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (CRH):

CRH stimulates release of MSH (melanocyte stimulating hormone) causing hyperpigmentation and blotchy skin.

Catecholamines (Adrenaline, Noradrenaline)

Decrease blood perfusion to skin reducing availability of oxygen and nutrients resulting in poor texture and sallow / pallor. Catecholamines have also been shown to cause immune suppression, interfere with DNA repair and contribute to ageing.

Managing stress

While the effects of stress on the skin are only briefly outlined above, it illustrates the significant impact this can have on individuals predisposed to skin conditions. It is therefore imperative to minimise stress where possible in order to avoid any exacerbation of skin disorders.

There are some straight forward tips to reduce stress such as getting a good night’s sleep, exercising and following some simple dietary guidelines (listed below).

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Reduce salt intake

Avoid alcohol

Avoid caffeine

Avoid skipping meals

Avoid refined, processed foods.

Avoid high fat foods

Do eat high fibre, low glycaemic index diet

In the following blogs we will present some relaxation techniques that are easy to implement and will have a direct effect in reducing the side effects of stress.

 

References

  1. Dunn, Jeffrey HKoo, John; Psychological Stress and skin aging: A review of possible mechanisms and potential therapies; Dermatology Online Journal 19 (6): 1 University of Colorado, School of
  2. Medicine, 2 University of California, San Francisco, Department of Dermatology 2013 Permalink: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/3j0766hs
  3. Jessica M. F. Hall, desAnges Cruser, Alan Podawiltz, Diana I. Mummert, Harlan Jones, Mark E. Mummert; Psychological Stress and the Cutaneous Immune Response: Roles of the HPA Axis and the Sympathetic Nervous System in Atopic Dermatitis and Psoriasis; Dermatology Research and Practice Volume 2012, Article ID 403908, doi:10.1155/2012/403908
  4. Ying Chen, John Lyga; Brain – Skin Connection: Stress, Inflammation and Skin Aging; Inflammation & Allergy – Drug Targets, 2014, 13, 177-190
  5. Theoharis C. Theoharides, Jill M. Donelan, Nikoletta Papadopoulou, Jing Cao, Duraisamy Kempuraj, Pio Conti; Mast cells as targets of corticotropin releasing factor and related peptides; TRENDS in Pharmacological Sciences Vol.25 No.11 November 2004

The Importance of Adequate Hydration

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“Water is defined as an essential nutrient because it is required in amounts that exceed the body’s ability to produce it. All biochemical reactions occur in water. It fills the spaces in and between cells and helps form structures of large molecules such as protein and glycogen. Water is also required for digestion, absorption, transportation, dissolving nutrients, elimination of waste products and thermoregulation” (regulation of body temperature) (Kleiner, 1999).Hydration fact sheet- facebook (1)

cucumber-salad-food-healthy-37528mineral-water-lime-ice-mint-158821Key Facts 

Up to 2 litres of Water is lost daily due to bodily functions, such as perspiration, respiration, urination and defecation.

Diuretic substances in your diet such as caffeinated beverages, alcohol, high sugar and salty foods will increase water loss from the body.

Water requirements range from 8-10 glasses per day depending on diet and physical activity levels. As we age, we have a diminished sense of thirst and tend to drink less fluid, although water is still required. It is therefore important to ensure we drink an adequate amount of water, even in the absence of thirst.

Water can be consumed from drinking pure water as well as from eating certain foods. Depending on diet, up to 50% of your daily water intake can be derived from foods provided they are high in water content such as fruit, salad, soup and vegetables (i.e. iceberg lettuce and cucumber).

How dehydration impacts your skin condition

Key signs of mild to moderate dehydration include increased sensation of pexels-photo-136871pain, thirst, stiffness, headaches, lack of concentration, fatigue and skin problems.

The skin contains approximately 30% water. “Water intake, particularly in individuals with low initial water intake, can improve skin thickness and density and offsets transepidermal water loss (water lost through the skin surface)” (Popkin, Rosenberg & D’Anci, 2010). Hydration improves skin resiliency, elasticity and texture.

The water content in the skin contributes to important functions of the skin such as the development of a healthy skin barrier. The skin barrier guards the skin from microbial infections and infiltration of foreign substances which can cause skin flare ups.

Water deficiency can also lead to impaired skin processes, which can then worsen skin disorders such as dermatitis, psoriasis, acne and rosacea (Rodrigues, Palma, Tavares Marques & Bujan Varela, 2015).

Key tips to keeping hydrated

Create a routine: If you aren’t used to drinking water on a regular basis, start with four glasses of water a day. One glass on rising, one mid-morning, one mid-afternoon and one on retiring. This eliminates 4 out 8 glasses per day. Once you establish this routine, start adding additional glasses of water throughout the day, for example before meals

Convenience: Keep water with you at all times. Keep a refillable water bottle with you at work, in your car, and to take with you when you go on walks etc. Get used to sipping on water as part of your daily routine. Convenience is key, otherwise if it’s out of sight, it’s often out of mind!

Flavour: If you don’t like the taste of water, there are several ways to make it more enticing. Add some fresh herbs like mint, or fresh fruit, or a very small amount of juice (just enough to add a hint of flavour).

Variety: Mix up your water variety and add in some natural sparkling mineral water.

Eat foods high in water content: Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, in doing so will assist in keeping your body hydrated (this information should not replace any dietary information given by your psoriasis eczema clinic practitioner).

Be aware of cravings: if you are craving salty foods as this can be a signal from the body that you are dehydrated. Try drinking a glass of water before reaching for salty foods.

For more information on the health benefits of water and charts for daily consumption visit: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/water

Reference:

  1. Popkin, B., Rosenberg, I., & D’Anci, K. (2010). Water, Hydration and Health. National Institute of Health68(8), 439–458. http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
  2. Kleiner, S. (1999). Water. Journal Of The American Dietetic Association99(2), 200-206. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0002-8223(99)00048-6
  3. Rodrigues, L., Palma, L., Tavares Marques, L., & Bujan Varela, J. (2015). Dietary water affects human skin hydration and biomechanics. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology4(411), 413. http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/ccid.s86822

PSORIASIS and COMORBIDITIES – CEREBRAL VASCULAR AND PERIPHERAL ARTERY DISEASE

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Continuing our series on Psoriasis and Comorbidities

CHART 1: Comorbidities Associated with Psoriasis 1,2,3

Metabolic Syndrome –

Cerebral Vascular Disease – stroke

Peripheral Artery Disease – PAD

Cerebral Vascular Disease – stroke

A study found that cerebral (brain) vascular disease and peripheral arterial disease was also significantly more likely to be diagnosed in patients with psoriasis than in controls. 1 Cerebral vascular diseases are conditions that are caused by problems that affect the blood supply to the brain. Including:-

  • stroke– a serious medical condition where one part of the brain is damaged by a lack of blood supply or bleeding into the brain from a burst blood vessel 
  • transient ischemic attack (TIA) – a temporary fall in the blood supply to one part of the brain, resulting in brief symptoms similar to stroke 
  • subarachnoid haemorrhage – a type of stroke where blood leaks out of the brain’s blood vessels on to the surface of the brain
  • vascular dementia – persistent impairment in mental ability resulting from stroke or other problems with blood circulation to the brain 2

The results of a study looking at the association between psoriasis and stroke found that patients with severe psoriasis have a 44% increased risk of stroke, a potentially devastating co-morbidity. The risk of stroke in patients with psoriasis could not be explained by both common and rare major risk factors for stroke as identified in routine medical practice, suggesting that psoriasis may be an independent risk factor for stroke. Patients that are classified as having mild psoriasis had a statistically significant increased risk of stroke, however, this association was very modest and of limited clinical significance for the individual patient. The data showed that a patient with mild psoriasis has an excess risk of stroke attributable to psoriasis of 1 in 4115 per year, whereas a patient with severe psoriasis has an excess risk of stroke attributable to psoriasis of 1 in 530 per year. 3

Peripheral Artery Disease – PAD

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms, and head which can cause symptomatic claudication (blockage) and may lead to amputation. 1

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In patients with psoriasis the diagnosis of peripheral arterial disease was found to be greater than in patients without psoriasis but with dyslipidemia (those with abnormal amount of lipids in the blood) or in smokers.4

Several studies have shown that presence and severity Cerebral vascular diseases (CVD) are related to presence and severity of Carotid Artery Disease (CAD) and PAD. In one study, significant CAD was observed in 25.4% of patients presenting with ischemic stroke. Among this stroke group, patients had a elevenfold likelihood of CAD compared to an age-matched general population. In other studies, PAD has been reported in 20 to 36% of patients with CVD.5

The prevalence of CAD in PAD patients is particularly high. In a systematic review of PAD studies, between 1966?2005, reported that CAD coexisted in 62% of patients when detected using stress tests, and in 90% of patients if the disease was detected by coronary angiography. Another review of the existing literature confirmed these findings, showing that 50% of those presenting with PAD have symptoms of CAD or electrocardiographic abnormalities, 90% have abnormalities on coronary angiography, and 40% have duplex evidence of carotid artery disease.5

A person’s risk also increases if they are over the age of 50  and who 6 : –

  • Smoke or used to smoke – If you smoke or have a history of smoking have up to four times greater risk of P.A.D.
  • Have diabetes – One in every three people over the age of 50 with diabetes is likely to develop P.A.D. This will be further increased for psoriasis patients with diabetes.
  • Have high blood pressure – Also called hypertension, high blood pressure raises the risk of developing plaque in the arteries.
  • Have high blood cholesterol – Excess cholesterol and fat in your blood contribute to the formation of plaque in the arteries, reducing or blocking blood flow to your heart, brain, or limbs.
  • Have a personal history of vascular disease, heart attack, or stroke. If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, you increase your risk of also developing PAD by 1 in 3.

The signs and symptoms of the disease include 6 :

  • Claudication (obstruction of the arteries) – causing fatigue, heaviness, tiredness, cramping in the leg muscles (buttocks, thigh, or calf) that occurs during activity e.g. walking or climbing stairs. This pain or discomfort goes away once the activity is stopped and after resting.
  • Experiencing pain in the legs and/or feet that disturbs your sleep.
  • Sores or wounds on toes, feet, or legs that heal slowly, poorly, or not at all.
  • Colour changes in the skin of the feet, including paleness or purply blueness. The purply blue colouration of psoriasis plaques is especially seen in psoriasis patients who also have diabetes.
  • A lower temperature in one leg compared to the other leg.
  • Poor nail growth and decreased hair growth on toes and legs.

To improve your general health, mobility, and in order to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and/or amputation it is critical that you reduce any symptoms that you may have of PAD :-

  • Quit smoking – Consult with your health care provider to develop an effective cessation plan and ensure you stick to it. This is especially important for psoriasis patients as smoking can be an aggravating trigger for those with chemical sensitivities.
  • It is important to lower your high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels. Consult with your health care provider.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Be sure to increase your vegetable intake especially green vegetables, and those fruits as identified in your consultation with our Psoriasis Eczema Clinic Practitioners.
  • Adopt a more physical lifestyle. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity e.g. walking at least 3-4 times per week.
  • Reduce your weight – If you are overweight or obese, work with your health care provider to develop a supervised weight loss plan.

 

REFERENCES

  • Prodanovich S, Kirsner RS, Kravetz JD, Ma F, Martinez L, Federman DG. Association of Psoriasis with Coronary Artery, Cerebrovascular, and Peripheral Vascular Diseases and Mortality. Arch Dermatol. 2009;145(6):700-703. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2009.94
  • http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cerebrovascular-disease/Pages/Definition.aspx
  • Gelfand JM, Dommasch E, Shin DB, et al. The Risk of Stroke in Patients with Psoriasis. The Journal of investigative dermatology. 2009;129(10):2411-2418. doi:10.1038/jid.2009.112.
  • Prodanovich S. et al.; Association of Psoriasis with Coronary Artery, Cerebrovascular, and Peripheral Vascular Diseases and Mortality; Arch Dermatol. 2009;145(6):700-703. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2009.94
  • Shar A.M. et al.; Coronary, Peripheral and Cerebrovascular Disease: a Complex Relationship; Herz 33 · 2008 · Nr. 7 © Urban & Vogel
  • NHLBI Diseases and Conditions Index: Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.) www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/ Diseases/pad/pad_what.html

PSORIASIS and COMORBIDITIES – CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

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WHAT IS COMORBIDITY?

Comorbidity is a concurrence of multiple diseases or disorders in association with a given disease, in this case, psoriasis.

 INCREASED RISK

 The patient with psoriasis has an increased risk of developing one or more of a number of other diseases/conditions that share many immunological features with psoriasis.

 CHART 1: Comorbidities Associated with Psoriasis 1,2,3

Metabolic Syndrome – Cardiovascular Disease

  • Arterial hypertension/ Atherosclerosis
  • Myocardial infarction (MI)
  • Dyslipidemia (Raised cholesterol)

The immunological abnormalities that lead to the development of psoriasis suggest that these patients may be at increased risk for other diseases associated with an inflammatory state. Research is yet to establish whether other diseases occur as a direct result of the systemic inflammation associated with psoriasis, as a consequence of genetically determined selection, or whether it is possible that the link between psoriasis and Cardiovascular disease and myocardial infarction (MI)  may be mediated by other factors beyond inflammation, such as psychological stress, sedentary lifestyle, or possibly poor compliance with management of cardiovascular risk factors.. 4.5

There is increasing evidence to suggest that the immune response, including activated T cells, antigen presenting cells, cytokines, and markers of systemic inflammation such as C-reactive protein, are important to the development of atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) and ultimately, MI. 2 Research has shown that patients with psoriasis have a higher incidence of MI compared with control patients, with patients who have severe psoriasis as having the highest rate. The risk of MI associated with psoriasis is greatest in younger patients (under the age of 40) with severe psoriasis. This reduces with age but still remains an increased risk even after treatment for traditional cardiovascular risk factors that are associated with aging. 5

Psoriasis is also associated with hypertension (increased blood pressure). In one study researchers examined the association among hypertension, antihypertensive medication use, and risk of incident psoriasis using prospective data from a large cohort of US women. A total of 121,701 participants, of which 2477 participants were diagnosed with psoriasis, were followed for 11 years with 2 yearly questionnaires. Researchers found that a prior history of hypertension was associated with an increased risk of psoriasis among women with hypertension for 6 years or more. Specifically, hypertensive women without medication use and with current medication use were more likely to develop psoriasis compared with women who did not have hypertension. Among the individual antihypertensive drugs, only ?-blockers were associated with an increased risk of psoriasis after regular use for 6 years or more. 6

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In a United Kingdom study using a large (7.5 million patients from 415 practices) electronic medical records database (The Health Improvement Network (THIN), a random sample of patients with psoriasis between the ages of 25 and 64 years were identified. The identification parameters were a diagnosis of hypertension; confirmed psoriasis diagnosis and classified psoriasis severity. The severity classification was identified according to the National Psoriasis Foundation classification system 1) mild (limited disease with ?2% BSA affected), moderate (scattered disease with 3%-10% BSA affected), or 2) severe (extensive disease with >10% BSA affected). Blood pressure was compared to the UK National Institute of Health and Care Excellence clinical guidelines, with uncontrolled hypertension being defined as systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher or diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher. 

All patients with psoriasis who met the inclusion criteria were included in the study, yielding 680, 469, and 173 patients with mild, moderate, and severe psoriasis, respectively. The researchers found a significant positive relationship between psoriasis severity and uncontrolled hypertension independent of potential risk factors for poor blood pressure control. The likelihood of uncontrolled hypertension in patients with vs without psoriasis was greatest among those with moderate and severe skin disease, representing nearly half of the psoriasis patients seen by GPs in the United Kingdom. The findings have important clinical implications, highlighting a need for more effective management of blood pressure in patients with psoriasis, especially those with more extensive skin involvement (i.e. ?3% BSA affected).7 

The precise mechanisms that underlie psoriasis and hypertension are unknown. One theory proposed is that adipose (fat) tissue in psoriasis patients serves as a major source of angiotensinogen, which is subsequently converted to angiotensin II. Angiotensin II not only promotes salt retention by kidneys; it also stimulates T-cell proliferation. Angiotensin II also appears to promote inflammation and the development of atherosclerosis. Other theories suggest that increased visceral adipose tissue in psoriasis patients may contribute to hypertension development. Increased visceral adipose tissue may be associated with accumulation of perivascular fat, which can serve as a reservoir for activated effector T cells that promote dysfunction in both hypertension and psoriasis. Or that endothelin-1 may play an important role in the development of hypertension among psoriasis patients. Endothelin-1 is a protein that constricts blood vessels and increase blood pressure, and it is produced by several different cell types including keratinocytes. While the level of endothelin-1 is usually regulated through various mechanisms, their expression appears to be altered in psoriasis patients. 8 The connection between obesity and psoriasis, when taken in light of the above theories, is further strengthened. It is always advisable for those with moderate to severe psoriasis who are overweight to try to lose weight through sensible eating – reducing fast and fatty foods and increasing the intake of vegetables, especially green vegetables.

The development of atherosclerosis and its increased prevalence may be partially explained by the presence of atherosclerotic risk factors, e.g., diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and hyperlipidemia (increased levels of lipids in the blood, including cholesterol and triglycerides) as well as by the chronic inflammatory processes that are commonly observed in psoriasis. 9 

Researchers have found that psoriasis patients have impaired endothelial function and greater thickness of the innermost two layers of the wall of the carotid artery which leads to increased arterial stiffness. 9

Atherosclerosis, the underlying process resulting in cardiovascular events, is caused by the build up of atheromatous plaques in the inner layer of the arteries. Atheromatous plaques are an accumulation of degenerative material in the inner layer of an artery wall. The material consists of mostly macrophage cells, or debris, containing lipids, calcium and a variable amount of fibrous connective tissue. The interaction between metabolic abnormalities such as diabetes, high cholesterol etc. and the systemic proinflammatory mechanisms operating involved in psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis may explain the accelerated atherosclerotic process in these patients. Patients with psoriatic disease display abnormalities in the innate and adaptive immune system that result in high serum levels of proinflammatory cytokines that may upregulate cell-mediated immunity, promote inflammatory cell migration through the vascular endothelium (tissue that lines the interior surface of blood vessels), resulting in endothelial dysfunction and thus causing plaque formation and build up. 10

Recent studies clearly demonstrated that inflammation impairs reverse cholesterol transfer (High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol efflux) in vivo, providing evidence that inflammation impairs HDL function. HDL is a complex lipoprotein particle with a broad variety of functions, exerting atheroprotective activity via effects on the endothelium and by potent anti-inflammatory capabilities. Functional impairment of HDL may contribute to the increased cardiovascular mortality experienced by psoriatic patients. HDL from psoriasis patients and healthy controls was assessed for changed HDL composition. Researchers found that there was a significant reduction in apoA-I levels of HDL from psoriatic patients, whereas levels of apoA-II and proteins involved in acute-phase response, immune response, and endopeptidase /protease inhibition were increased. Psoriatic HDL also contained reduced phospholipid and cholesterol. The researchers found that the compositional alterations impaired the ability of psoriatic HDL to promote cholesterol efflux from macrophages. Importantly, HDL cholesterol efflux capability was more impaired as the psoriasis area and severity increased. 11

Efflux is a mechanism responsible for moving compounds, like cholesterol out of the cells.  The efflux process is extremely important because cholesterol overloading, such as occurs in the cells of the arterial walls, leads to the development of atherosclerotic plaque.12

Chronic systemic inflammation associated with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis induces endothelial dysfunction, altered glucose metabolism, and insulin resistance that plays a significant role in the development of obesity, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia (high cholesterol), and cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction.

Those with moderate to severe psoriasis should ensure that they visit their General Practitioner to have their blood pressure and cholesterol checked and to have an ECG regularly to ensure the health of their heart.

 

REFERENCES

  • Arzu K?l?ç, Seray Cakmak; PSORIASIS AND COMORBIDITIES; EMJ Dermatol. 2013;1:78-85.
  • Howa Yeung et al.;Psoriasis Severity and the Prevalence of Major Medical Comorbidity – A Population-Based Study; JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(10):1173-1179. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.5015
  • Aurangabadkar SJ. Comorbidities in psoriasis. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2013;79, Suppl S1:10-7
  • Elgendy A, Alshawadfy E, Altaweel A, Elsaidi A (2016) Cardiovascular and Metabolic Comorbidities of Psoriasis. Dermatol Case Rep 1: 106.
  • Gelfand JM, Neimann AL, Shin DB, Wang X, Margolis DJ, et al. (2006) Risk of myocardial infarction in patients with psoriasis. JAMA 296: 1735-1741.
  • Wu S, Han J, Li W, Qureshi AA. Hypertension, Antihypertensive Medication Use, and Risk of Psoriasis.JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(9):957-963. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.9957
  • Takeshita J, Wang S, Shin DB, et al. Effect of Psoriasis Severity on Hypertension Control: A Population-Based Study in the United Kingdom.JAMA dermatology. 2015;151(2):161-169. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.2094.
  • Wang Armstrong A. et al; Psoriasis and Hypertension Severity: Results from a Case-Control Study; PLoS ONE 6(3):e18227 · March 2011
  • Kalkan G , Karada? A.s.:The Association Between Psoriasis and Cardiovascular Diseases: Eur J Gen Med 2013; 10 (Suppl 1):10-16
  • Eder L. and Gladman D.D.; Atherosclerosis in psoriatic disease: latest evidence and clinical implications; Ther Adv Musculoskel Dis 2015, Vol. 7(5) 187–195 DOI: 10.1177/ 1759720X15591801
  • Holzer M. et al.; Psoriasis alters HDL composition and cholesterol efflux capacity; Journal of Lipid Research Volume 53, 2012
  • Phillips M.C.; Molecular Mechanisms of Cellular Cholesterol Efflux; J Biol Chem. 2014 Aug 29; 289(35): 24020–24029.

Itch + Psoriasis

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Itch (Pruritus)

is an important but underestimated symptom in psoriasis. However, there is limited published research data available on both its prevalence and characteristics. Some studies suggest that its prevalence in psoriasis sufferers, from different parts of the world, ranges from between 70% and 90%. In one Study Researchers found that 83% of psoriatic patients suffered from itching and in 45% of these patients pruritus was a daily occurrence (in 32% “often” and in 13% “always”) 1

Functional brain imaging studies have shown that the itch-scratch cycle in humans can be tracked to specific regions of the brain, including areas related to reward, pain sensation, and addiction.

The Itch-Scratch-Rash cycle is commonly used to describe this ongoing, never ceasing, always constant itch. The itchier a patient feels, the more scratching of the skin that occurs and which ultimately lead to skin damage and the appearance of a red rash. Often, in chronic presentations it becomes a completely unconscious habit and patients are often not even aware that they are scratching. When a patient scratches, their skin becomes inflamed, this inflammation then causes the skin to itch even more, thus making it even harder for the patient to resist the urge to scratch. This vicious circle can become so severe that it causes sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety and stress. In extreme cases it can lead to significant excoriations (open, bloody and deep scratch wounds) on the lesions and the surrounding normal skin. In chronic psoriasis it can even cause severe lichenification (thickening of the skin) and pain.

One study found that itching was the most frequent complaint (64%) among patients hospitalized for psoriasis. A National Psoriasis Foundation USA survey of its members in 2001, reported that for 79% of sufferers – itch was the second most troublesome symptom after scaling. Psoriasis sufferers have indicated that the severity of their itching on a scale from one to 10 VAS scale (from mild, moderate to severe pruritus where scratched plaques bleed). Most described pruritus (itch) as a sensation of stinging (20%) and burning (15%); the intensity reflected by VAS scale was scored as mild only in 13%, moderate in 37% and severe in 33% of those surveyed. 75% percent of itch patients had to scratch until they bled. Itch was also found to be more severe and frequent at night with 50% reporting difficulty in falling asleep. 2, 3

Itching/Scratching can lead to the hypertrophy (enlargement) of cutaneous (skin) nerve endings, which in turn become more sensitive. For those psoriasis sufferers that have as their Primary trigger, flare-ups caused by the “Koebner Phenomenon” (in which skin injury e.g. tattoos, surgical procedures, cuts, insect bites or sunburn etc. elicits a disease response) scratching can continually exacerbate and worsen their condition. The “Koebner Phenomenon” affects between 11% to 75%, depending on various study results. 4

Where constant and vigorous scratching has occurred and plaque scales have been removed, pin point bleeding, known as the Auspitz sign can be observed.

it_1

Studies have also shown that in people suffering from depression, and who suffer from itching due to a variety of causes, that there is a correlation between the severity of itchiness and the severity of depression. Itching therefore causes both a real serious physical and psychological suffering, similar to what chronic pain does.5 It has been noted that there is a direct positive relationship between the severity of pruritus and the severity of depression in patients with psoriasis.6 One study revealed that patients with psoriasis, that experienced intense pruritus, also reported significantly higher scores for depression and anxiety, and showed personality traits of somatic anxiety, embitterment, mistrust, and physical trait aggressiveness. It was also noted that approximately 30% of these patients experienced high-level pruritus, when the great majority of patients had very few skin lesions.7

Patients when answering the questions on “what was the aggravating factors of pruritus”, gave the following answers –  “when I was stressed out” (35.0%), followed by “in a hot environment” (18.8%), “when sweating” (17.5%), “during a change in the weather” (12.5%), and “in a cold environment” (10.0%). Of these patients, 32.5% complained of itching on the entire body, followed by the scalp and trunk (17.5%), the scalp only (16.3%), and the scalp and extremities (13.8%).8

Scratching, even for adults, is difficult to resist because it does give the impression of easing the itch – but this is only for the short-term. Eventually the sensation to itch comes back – even worse that before the patient scratched.

Basic tips to control the urge to itch:- 

  • Keep nails short to avoid tearing the skin when scratching. 
  • Keep cool. Over-heating can trigger the itch. Try to keep your body temperature as constant as you can, wear light layers of cotton clothes.
  • Avoid overheated rooms, keep ducted heating to a minimum, and at night keep the bedrooms cold.
  • Avoid heavy blankets and doonas – use cotton blankets (hospital style) if possible. 
  • Gently rub with the back of the fingers, place pressure on the area instead of scratching. 
  • Use a cold compress 

it_2

REFERENCES:

  1. Aerlyn D. “Treating Itch in Psoriasis.” Dermatology Nursing 18.32006 227-233. 20 Apr. 2008. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/541971.
  2. “Itch Relief.” Psoriasis.org. 9 Nov. 2001. National Psoriasis Foundation. 20 Apr. 2008.
    http://www.psoriasis.org/news/stories/2001/20011109_itch.php.
  3. Prigninao P. et al.; Itch in psoriasis: epidemiology, clinical aspects and treatment options.; Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology 2009:2 9–13
  4. Sampogna, F. “Prevalence of Symptoms Exerienced by Patients with Different Clinical Types of Psoriasis.”British Journal of Dermatology 151.3 Sep. 2004. 594-599. 20 Apr. 2008. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2133.20.
  5. Thappa, D.M. “The Isomorphic Phenomenon of Koebner.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology 70.32004 187-189. 23 Apr.2008. http://www.ijdvl.com/text.asp?2004%2F70%2F3%2F187%2F11105.
  6. Gupta MA.et al. Pruritus in psoriasis. A prospective study of some psychiatric and dermatologic correlates. Arch Dermatol 1988; 124: 1052–1057.
  7. Remröd C. et al.; Psychological aspects of pruritus in psoriasis; Acta Derm Venereol 2015; 95: 439–443
  8. Tae-Wook Kim et al.; Clinical Characteristics of Pruritus in Patients with Scalp Psoriasis and Their Relation with Intraepidermal Nerve Fiber Density; Ann Dermatol Vol. 26, No. 6, 2014

Types of Psoriasis – FLEXURAL/INTERTRIGINOUS (INVERSE PSORIASIS) and GENITAL PSORIASIS

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Inverse psoriasis

 also known as flexural or intertriginous psoriasis is a rare form of psoriasis that occurs in the flexural skin folds. Plaque psoriasis is most commonly found on the trunk and extensor surfaces of the body, such as the knees, elbows, sacral (lower back) area, and scalp whereas Inverse psoriasis is found in the folds of the axilla (armpits), submammary (breast) folds, and groin (inguinal) and buttock folds. It can occur in any area where two skin surfaces meet. The inguinal fold is the most commonly affected area, followed by the axilla and the external genitalia. The skin at the inverse body sites differs from skin at extensor sites with less epidermal keratinization (thinner skin) and more sweat glands. The most evident difference between classical plaque-type psoriasis and inverse psoriasis is the lack of, or less, scaling. The lesions are usually well demarcated, erythematous (red), and are often shiny, appear moist, weepy and fissured. The irritation may be increased in inverse psoriasis as a result of the rubbing and sweating involved in the skin folds. 1, 2   

Approximately 3–7% of psoriasis patients present with inverse psoriasis and patients with palmar psoriasis have a greater chance of having inverse psoriasis as compared with plaque psoriasis. In one study of 170 psoriasis patients with palmar involvement, 5.3 times more patients had inverse psoriasis than patients with plaque psoriasis. Development of inverse psoriasis has been reported as a paradoxical side effect to treatment with infliximab for Crohn’s disease and hidradenitis suppurativa. Inverse psoriasis has been observed to be more common in the obese population possibly due to the rubbing of the skin folds. 1, 2

Inverse psoriasis affecting the genitalia seems to be underreported and undertreated; and approximately 35% patients with genital psoriasis never speak to their physician about their genital lesions. Nearly 70% of Physicians do not offer treatment for genital lesions. 3

Flexural Psoriasis 3

A study on the quality of life and sexual life in 487 patients with genital psoriasis concluded that3:

  • patients with genital lesions report even significantly worse quality of life than patients without genital lesions;
  • sexual distress and dysfunction are particularly prominent in women;
  • sexual distress is especially high when genital skin is affected;
  • the attention given to possible sexual problems in the psoriasis population by healthcare professionals is perceived as insufficient by patients.     

Flexural Psoriasis 2

Results of several questionnaire-based surveys show that involvement of the genital skin region occurs in 29–40% of patients with psoriasis. The genital area may frequently be involved in cases of inverse psoriasis. Of 48 patients with inverse psoriasis, the external genitalia were involved in 38 (79.2%). 4

Flexural Psoriasis 1

In another report researchers stated that patients with genital psoriasis have significantly worse quality of life (QoL) scores compared with patients without genital lesions. In addition, numerous patients with psoriasis have sexual dysfunction. Between 25–40% of patients reported a decline of sexual activity since the onset of psoriasis, mainly due to diminished sexual desire, embarrassment of physical appearance and inconvenience caused by scaliness of the skin or topical therapy. Particularly in women with genital psoriasis, sexual distress is higher and sexual function is more significantly impaired compared to those without genital lesions. 4

Inverse psoriasis is often misdiagnosed for bacterial or fungal intertrigo. Intertrigo is inflammation of opposed skin folds caused by skin-on-skin friction that presents as erythematous, macerated (moist, broken, soft skin) plaques. Secondary bacterial and fungal infections are common because the moist, denuded skin provides an ideal environment for growth of microorganisms. Candida is the most common fungal organism associated with intertrigo. Intertriginous candidiasis also presents as well demarcated, erythematous patches but with tell tale satellite papules or pustules at the periphery (around the edges). Candida, Staphylococcus aureus and Malassezia furfur have been shown to colonize psoriatic skin lesions so diagnosis for flexural psoriasis is sometimes not easy. Candida species have been isolated from the skin of 15% of psoriasis patients compared to only 4% in the control group. 5, 6 However, some studies have also suggested that Candida is not commonly found in psoriatic lesions of inverse of genital psoriasis.

Application of topical treatment in the intertriginous areas is considered as treatment under occlusion due to enhanced hydration and increased skin absorption. However, the inverse areas are considered more sensitive and prone to side effects from topical steroids (i.e. due to thinner skin at these locations). 2

 

REFERENCES

  1. Syed Z. U. and Khachemoune A.; Inverse Psoriasis Case Presentation and Review; Am J Clin Dermatol 2011; 12 (2): 1-4 1175-0561/11/0002-0001/$49.95/0
  2. Silje Haukali Omland  and Robert Gniadecki; Psoriasis inversa: A separate identity or a variant of psoriasis vulgaris?; Clinics in Dermatology (2015) 33, 456–461
  3. Meeuwi  K.A.P. et al.; Genital Psoriasis: A Systematic Literature Review on this Hidden Skin Disease;  Acta Derm Venereol 2011; 91: 5–11
  4. Meeuwis KAP, et al.; Genital Psoriasis Awareness Program: Physical and Psychological Care for Patients with Genital Psoriasis. Acta Derm Venereol. 2015, 95, 211–216
  5. Wilmer E.N. et al.; Resistant “Candidal Intertrigo” ”: Could Inverse Psoriasis Be the True Culprit?; doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2013.02.120210
  6. Taheri Sarvtin, et al.;. Evaluation of candidal colonization and specific humoral responses against Candida albicans in patients with psoriasis. International Journal of Dermatology. Dec2014,Vol.53Issue12, pe555-e560. 6p.