Finding ways to treat skin conditions like psoriasis can be as awkward and painful as the problem itself. The idea of sticking needles into your skin as a way to overcome a skin condition might not sound too appealing but acupuncture has proved to help problems such as psoriasis. Psoriasis occurs when skin cells try to replace themselves too quickly resulting in red, scaly skin that when scratched reveals silvery scales underneath. It is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that can be unsightly and painful. Many psoriasis sufferers are now finding relief from their skin condition with acupuncture.
Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body but is most common on the elbows, knees and scalp. Psoriasis that appears on the face is often the reason why many people find it hard to socialise or develop personal relationships due to the reaction they get from others. Psoriasis can affect physical, mental and emotional well-being but acupuncture could provide an alternative way of treating the condition.
What causes psoriasis and how can acupuncture help
Psoriasis is difficult to treat because the causes of psoriasis are yet to be determined. Psoriasis is believed to be genetic and typically skips a generation but the condition stems from a defect in cell production whereby cells are produced at such a fast rate they die and then build up to produce a scaling effect. Psoriasis is neither contagious or down to poor personal hygiene and research suggests the scales are a result of a problem in the immune system. Somebody with psoriasis that covers over 30% of their body is considered to have severe psoriasis but anyone with the condition is at risk of developing a form of arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis.
Finding what triggers psoriasis is the best way to understand and treat the skin condition. There are some common psoriasis triggers that cause the disease to ‘flare-up' and include stress, smoking, foods and allergies. Stress and anxiety are the popular reasons for a psoriasis flare-up and acupuncture is recognised as one of the best ways to deal with these problems. Typical treatments for psoriasis include emollients, steroids, vitamin A/D derivatives and skin softeners. However, complementary therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal remedies are becoming more common ways of treating psoriasis. Acupuncture is known to bring about some excellent results with psoriasis where conventional treatments have failed.
Acupuncture relieves psoriasis
Acupuncture uses ultra-fine needles inserted into the skin (not in the affected area) to help unblock the flow of what is known in Traditional Chinese Medicine as ‘life-energy' or ‘chi'. When there is an imbalance in life-energy, problems develop and an acupuncturist looks to restore balance which in turn allows the body to heal itself. Scientific explanations to the results of acupuncture suggest that the needles stimulate deep sensory nerves that release natural pain-killing chemicals known as endorphins. Endorphins give pain-relief and may also trigger anti-inflammatory mechanisms that ease the redness and irritation of psoriasis. Acupuncture needles also aid relaxation which is an important part of relieving stress and anxiety. As both these factors are known to trigger psoriasis, acupuncture prevents them occurring which in turn can help stop the psoriasis flaring up.
Acupuncture takes a holistic approach (meaning the whole body) to target the underlying problems of skin conditions so expect the treatment to focus on areas of the body that may not be naturally associated with the area affected. Acupuncture also utilises electro-acupuncture (needles stimulated by electricity), moxibustion (burning herbs) and cupping (relieving tension and improving circulation with glass cups on the skin).
Article submitted by
Daniel Alexander, GoToSee Journalist