Dry skin? It might be psoriasis.

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One of my friends suffers from psoriasis. In the summer, it’s barely noticeable, but in winter, his hands and elbows show the painful signs of dry, scaly, itchy skin. About 1 million Canadians suffer from psoriasis, and while it’s not contagious, it can happen to anyone, at any time. Since it’s a visible skin issue, it can affect people’s feelings, behaviour and experiences—up to 60% of people with psoriasis may develop depression. The severity of the condition can vary, and flare-ups, which can be triggered by cold weather, are often unpredictable. Obviously, this is frustrating, but almost half of all people with psoriasis haven’t seen their doctor regarding treatment in the past year, and many people who have sought out treatment end up being unhappy with their treatment experience, and don’t realize there are other treatment options. A few weeks ago my friend started UV treatments at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. The treatments last less than a minute, and in just a few sessions, his skin has never looked better. Other treatments include injections, pills or ointments—which help control the condition from the inside out, helping people get ahead of flare-ups before they start.

 

While I don’t have psoriasis, I definitely get dry skin—don’t we all?—so I’ve been researching skin care products that are great for anyone—whether you have normal, oily, sensitive skin or even a skin condition like psoriasis. Here are a few tips:

Avoid products that contain artificial fragrance, since fragrance can cause dryness, irritation and trigger flare-ups. 

Look for natural ingredients like aloe vera. Aloe can ease symptoms by reducing redness, scaling, itching and swelling over time. Any aloe vera gel with no added fragrance is great.

Moisturize effectively because dry air and climate can exacerbate dry skin symptoms. Apply moisturizer or cream to wet skin if possible -- I like to keep my body moisturizer in the shower and apply it while I'm still wet, then pat my skin dry with a towel.

If you think you might have psoriasis (or some other skin condition) it’s best to speak to a doctor or check out canadianpsoriasis.ca.