Psoriasis (PSO) is characterized by red, flaky lesions caused by a disorder in the immune system, leading to the overproduction of skin cells. As a result, these scaly patches can be inflamed, itchy, sore, and often crack and bleed.
The best treatment approach is usually determined by the level of affliction. Light psoriasis affects less than 3% of the body, moderate between 3 and 10%, while severe psoriasis is the kind that affects more than 10% of the body.
Is There a Connection Between Psoriasis Treatment and Probiotics?
Yes, there is. Psoriasis is usually accompanied by high levels of inflammation-causing bacteria in the gut.
Probiotics can balance the body’s bacteria by introducing essential bacteria which will stimulate its T cells. These are lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) that are an integral part of the body’s immune system. They influence the response to antigens which are usually the root cause of inflammation. They isolate and bind the infected cells then terminate the infection.
Probiotics such as lactobacillus salivarius (LA307) and lactobacillus rhamnosus (LA305) have been found to have the ability to reduce and even prevent skin inflammation. In addition, another strain by the name lactobacillus pentosus (GMNL-77) was found to reduce biomarkers of skin inflammation which is critical in managing psoriasis.
The Different Approaches to Psoriasis Treatment
It is important to study the triggers before embarking on any treatment plan for psoriasis; otherwise, it may not be effective. Common triggers include stress, smoking, alcohol, cold or dry weather, infections, reactions to certain medications like beta-blockers or foods like dairy, citrus, and those containing gluten.
People have different triggers and varying reactions to the triggers. The wrong medication might aggravate the situation.
It is good to review the existing treatment and management methods even as we consider adopting probiotics for psoriasis treatment. This way, we can have a benchmark for measuring success and efficiency.
This is working on the immune system by turning down some proteins and turning up others. Immunomodulating drugs (IMiDs) such as interleukin (IL) and IL inhibitors are used in psoriasis treatment to manipulate the immune system by targeting specific pathways to reduce the formation of cells.
However, these drugs fall short because of possible side effects like drowsiness, constipation, fatigue, reduced blood cell count, and nerve damage.
Probiotics are known immunomodulatory agents, and it is not inconceivable that they will soon be customized to produce a natural regulator with fewer side effects.
These medications are powerful versions of immunomodulating drugs which affect the entire body rather than just the skin while targeting the source of the problem. They work by disrupting the part of the immune system which fuels psoriasis.
They include systemic medications like biologics. For example, immunosuppressants are designed to prevent the body’s immune system from damaging healthy cells. In this case, they prevent the body from generating extra skin cells.
However, this suppression of the immune system leaves the body exposed to all manners of infections ranging from the common cold to serious fungal infections and exposes the patients to the risk of malignancy.
Photo Therapy (UV Light)
Light therapy works by shining ultraviolet light on the skin to reduce skin inflammation and slow down the production of skin cells whose excessive growth leads to plaque formation. It also reduces the growth of cells by altering DNA functions.
It effectively reduces and even clears up psoriasis symptoms and is recommended for the treatment of moderate to severe cases of the skin condition.
Repeated and long-term exposure to phototherapy, however, exposes the patient to developing skin cancer.
It is also not recommended to take certain medications and supplements that make the skin extra sensitive to UV radiation. Antihistamines, contraceptives, diuretics, and sulfa drugs are some of these causes of UV sensitivity.
Phototherapy is discouraged for people with a history of skin cancers, lupus, compromised immunity, and known photosensitivity.
Systemic Retinoid Therapy
This approach applies the qualities of certain derivatives of retinoid (a group of compounds including vitamin A and its synthetic derivatives) to treat various skin disorders. For example, retinoic acid, etretinate, and acitretin are some of the widely used retinoid-based medications for the treatment of psoriasis.
The drugs have a substantial amount of toxicity and should be used wisely to protect the users from possible adverse effects.
This dark thick liquid reduces itchiness and makes the afflicted part of the skin less irritable. Depending on the level of infection, it is applied daily to once a week. Your dermatologist should be able to advise on the appropriate frequency. It is a common ingredient in shampoo for psoriasis treatment as it specifically keeps the scalp healthy.
It is, however, very powerful and should not be used on infants. Users are also advised to avoid direct sunlight after application because it can cause extensive skin damage.
This is a peeling agent when it comes to skincare and is even classified as a keratolytic (a type of exfoliator with moisturizing and soothing qualities). It softens the keratin layer of the skin and loosens the dry, scaly skin allowing peeling off.
It can cause irritation if it is left on the skin for long or the concentration is too high. If too much of it is applied over a large area, it can be absorbed into the body, which is not good. It weakens hair shafts and can lead to breakage and hair loss.
They are derived from corticosteroid hormones produced by adrenal glands and control the body’s inflammatory responses. They can therefore reduce the swelling, redness, and discoloration in the affected areas.
Topical probiotics come in strengths ranging from least potent to super potent, and the stronger they are, the more effectively they can deal with a psoriasis skin condition.
However, the higher the potency, the higher the risk of side effects like skin thinning, stretch marks, redness, dilated vessels, and susceptibility to bruising. Prolonged usage can even result in the steroids being absorbed in the body, adversely affecting internal organs.
It is a relatively new systemic treatment for psoriasis. It functions by regulating the immune system’s response to inflammatory diseases. It has proven effective against plaque psoriasis, nail psoriasis, scalp psoriasis, and controlling the itch.
We listed it separately because the long-term effects are yet to be sufficiently documented. The short-term side effects worth noting are nausea, diarrhea, and headaches which are not universal in patients who have used the drug.
All the methods listed above are effective against psoriasis but have shortcomings that limit how much they can be applied before the scale tips in favor of undesirable results.
Immunosuppressive drugs should be withheld, especially for psoriatic patients with comorbidities, because they hamper the body’s ability to fight and recover from other ailments. They should particularly not be administered to anyone suffering from COVID-19 in the current era.
Other solutions are too strong to be applied for prolonged periods over large skin surfaces. Unfortunately, this means if the psoriasis is not gone by the time you finish the regimen, you will be forced to look for an alternative healthy skin treatment.
This creates the need to have safer modalities to switch to. Probiotics seem to be the perfect all-around solution because they allow the body to continue fighting naturally without introducing harsh compounds that may do more harm than good.
Probiotics for Psoriasis Treatment
The microbes in the body play a crucial role in a person’s overall health, including skin health. They regulate immune response, digestion, and absorption of nutrients and even significantly affect mood.
Introducing probiotics will reduce the symptoms of psoriasis and can be a good way to manage the illness once you have established the triggers and confirmed the body is not sensitive to the particular probiotic supplement you intend to use. Then, you can use probiotics for as long as it takes to get results, and they won’t become toxic.
Keep in mind that everyone’s skin microbiome is unique, so it will be their optimum combination of probiotic strains. If you get the right balance of probiotics in your diet in the first place, you may not even have to deal with psoriasis or its symptoms.
Probiotics can be added to the diet by consuming foods rich in probiotics like yogurt and other probiotic drinks like kefir and kombucha, fermented cheeses, fermented vegetables like kimchi, and sauerkraut, and pickles.
You can also consider probiotic supplements, which are available in health stores, supermarkets, and online. However, we strongly advise that you consult with a healthcare professional before adopting any supplements.
PSO worsens or gets more inflamed if the skin is irritated; therefore, the choice of cleansers, shampoo, lotion, and skincare products should be made carefully. Look for products that take skin sensitivity into account.
They should provide hydration without relying on irritating chemicals and perfumes. These will be very impactful in the quality of life lived while managing psoriasis.
Probiotics can be introduced in many skincare products like soap, shampoo, and body creams. They aid in soothing the afflicted skin while preventing the spread and worsening of psoriasis. As a result, the skin will be empowered to produce healthy bacteria. At the same time, it is covered by a protective layer of beneficial bacteria, preventing further irritation.
The sheer number of ways in which probiotics can be administered to cure and manage psoriasis without distorting the body’s immune system shows why they are the future for psoriasis treatment.
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