Psoriasis and menopause

Psoriasis and menopause
Menopause is a time of changes for your body and your skin. While some skin changes are minor irritants (pimples and wrinkles at the same time!) some changes wreak havoc with our skin and our self-esteem. Psoriasis is a skin condition that often strikes women either during or after menopause, even women who never had psoriasis before. What is psoriasis and what can we do about it?

Psoriasis defined
Psoriasis (SOR-eye-a-sis) is a chronic (long-lasting) skin condition that causes a thick, scaly build up of skin cells on the outer layer of the skin. Often the skin is red and irritated and usually very itchy. Psoriasis typically occurs on the scalp, knees, and elbows, but psoriasis can develop on almost every part of the body. Some people develop psoriasis as children, others not until adulthood. This skin condition affects both men and women.

Psoriasis is not very attractive looking and many people suffer unnecessary stigma due to ignorance. You cannot ‘get’ psoriasis from someone else. Psoriasis is not a sign of poor hygiene or lack of grooming. Psoriasis is simply your skin producing more cells than normal.

Usually, skin cells make their way to the outer layer of your skin called the epidermis. There, the skin cells are sloughed off with daily living, washing and exfoliating. Normally a slow process (that slows with age) skin cells are regenerated on average about every 28 days. For someone who has psoriasis, that process takes as little as three or six days; it’s almost like your skin cells moving at warp speed.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition
Skin cell turnover is the body’s way of dealing with skin regeneration and warding off potential irritants that try to enter the skin. Compare this to allergies, when you body goes on the defensive to protect against allergens. Psoriasis works in a similar fashion, only there is too much of a good thing because your skin cells are reacting and regenerating beyond normal.

Anyone who deals with psoriasis understands that there is no cure, magic lotion or permanent solution. This is why you have to rotate your skin treatments. Any new product may work for a while, but then the skin builds up its autoimmune defences to ward off this new outsider. Consequently, be very leery of any claim for the product that ends psoriasis once and for all. Treatment comes down to a lot of experimenting and patience.

Causes of psoriasis
The problem with psoriasis is that there are supposedly many underlying causes, and these vary from person to person. Some experts point to heredity but you can develop psoriasis without having a family history of the condition. Others claim excess sun, diet, alcohol, hot humid weather, cold dry weather, stress, and hormones can cause psoriasis.

Hormones and psoriasis
The experts who conclude that hormones play a part in developing psoriasis, point to the women who develop psoriasis during menopause, peri-menopause, or even after menopause. Similarly, women can develop psoriasis during or after pregnancy. The thought is that just like during puberty the body’s hormonal imbalance results in disruptions to the immune system.

This may help explain that sudden case of psoriasis, but it is still only a theory. For many, psoriasis flare ups can last for several months or years, and then become dormant. Other people deal with psoriasis throughout their entire lives. Psoriasis is still a somewhat mysterious condition that requires patients to try many types of treatments and vary these treatments from time to time as they appear to lose their effectiveness.

Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes embarrassment, discomfort and inconvenience. The worst part may be dealing with people who simply to not understand that psoriasis is a condition that happens; people do not choose to bring psoriasis on themselves. If you think that you have psoriasis, talk to your doctor to discuss treatment options that can help you gain back some control from these over-active skin cell defenders.

Menopause, Your Doctor, and You

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