Psoriasis, a relatively common skin condition that causes patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales, can be found on various parts of the body. For many people it can be mild, but others experience severe psoriasis, which can cause a great deal of stress and self-confidence problems. Now, three large clinical trials seem to suggest a new drug can completely clear up severe psoriasis, offering hope to those who have been battling the skin condition.
Imagine for a moment what it would be like to live with pain, swelling, heat, and redness on your face, legs, lower back, palms, or the soles of your feet. This is where psoriasis can show up. For some people, the thick, red spots can even appear on genitals and inside the mouth. Now, consider after years of living with such a condition, there is hope thanks to an effective new treatment.
Three large, long-term clinical trials, led by Northwestern Medicine Investigator and professor of dermatology Kenneth Gordon, indicated that 80 percent of people with moderate to severe psoriasis experienced a complete or almost complete recovery from the skin condition with a new drug called ixekizumab. Gordon has reported that the results show “the great majority of responses persist at least 60 weeks”.
It is bad enough that psoriasis is itchy, uncomfortable, and unsightly, but experts say it is also linked to an increased risk of depression, heart disease, and diabetes. Finding effective treatment is important not only for comfort level, but overall good health.
According to those who worked on the clinical trials, the drug ixekizumab neutralizes a pathway in the immune system that promotes psoriasis.
To test the drug, clinicians enrolled close to 4,000 adult patients at more than 100 study sites in 21 countries. Everyone who took part had either moderate or severe psoriasis. Patients received either injections of ixekizumab at various doses or a placebo over a period of more than one year.
The team then assessed whether the ixekizumab reduced the severity of the skin condition compared to the placebo, and also monitored any adverse effects. By about 12 weeks, close to 82 percent of those with psoriasis had their skin condition updated to “minimal” or “clear”. By week 60, between 69 and 78 percent had maintained their improvement.
Just a few years ago, doctors thought complete clearance of this inflammatory disease was impossible. Now they see that based on the trials, they can anticipate 80 percent will have a good response to ixekizumab and about 40 percent will be completely cleared of psoriasis.
Since the results of the clinical trials were announced, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved ixekizumab.
Natural herbal remedies for psoriasis
Drug therapies are not always necessary when it comes to treating psoriasis. Oftentimes, natural herbal remedies are helpful. Here we take a look at different natural remedies that people who have battled psoriasis have found to be effective.
- Capsaicin: an ingredient in chili peppers. When added to creams and ointments, it can block nerve endings that transmit pain.
- Aloe Vera: gel from the aloe plant can reduce redness and scaling associated with psoriasis.
- Apple cider vinegar: known to relieve scalp itch due to psoriasis.
- Oats: people report taking a bath in oats or applying an oat paste helps reduce itchy skin.
- Epsom salts: adding Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts to a warm bath and soaking in the tub for about 15 minutes helps remove psoriasis scales and eases itching.
- Turmeric: Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is known for its ability to alter gene expression. This is likely why people have said that it helps minimize psoriasis flare-ups.
- Tea tree oil: Some people have discovered that shampoos with tea tree oil help relieve psoriasis on the scalp.
- Mahonia (Oregon grape): Studies indicate that applying cream with 10 percent Mahonia is effective in treating mild to moderate psoriasis.
- Dietary supplements: Fish oil, vitamin D, milk thistle, and evening primrose have been reported to help ease mild symptoms of psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.
- Light therapy: a special type of light prescribed for a certain amount of time has been effective in reducing the signs of psoriasis.
If you are suffering from psoriasis and plan to try any of the natural remedies outlined above, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor or naturopath first to make sure that no new approach clashes with any other therapies you might be involved with, including any medications or other supplements you might be taking.
In addition to taking the above list into consideration, those who suffer bouts of psoriasis can also consider using a humidifier to keep the air in their home or office moist. It helps prevent dry skin. Skin moisturizers that are labeled “sensitive” are also helpful in keeping skin moist and preventing plaque formation.
Studies, including one conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, along with Harvard Medical School, found that an increased risk of psoriasis existed among women who drank non-light beer. The more beer a person drank, the worst the psoriasis seemed to be. The obvious message – if you are prone to psoriasis, you might want to avoid alcohol.
There is no single solution to keeping psoriasis at bay, and some treatments may have negative side effects for pre-existing conditions a person might have other than psoriasis. Again, this is why it is important to discuss therapies with a doctor first. When it comes to the home remedies, remember that they can help in mild and moderate situations, but in severe cases, other treatments may be required.
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