What is Psoriasis?

Suu Balm
I’ve been working with Suu Balm since January to talk about how their product is used to treat the symptoms of Psoriasis, the skin condition that is not only prevalent but cannot be prevented according to Dr. John O’Shea of Suu Balm who I interviewed to help share more about the condition. Thought you knew everything about it? Well this might help too! 

For someone who doesn’t know what psoriasis is, can you describe how it affects the skin? 

Psoriasis is a skin condition that results in patches of pink/red, raised, scaly, dry skin, that are often itchy; what is happening is that the skin is producing new cells too quickly, and these cells are not shed, resulting in these raised patches.

What are the visible effects? 

In most cases what you will see is raised pink/red patches, that look very dry; these may be cut or thickened by scratching, and there may be secondary skin infection. How visible these patches are depends on where the psoriasis is affecting and they type of psoriasis – for example some people are affected on their scalp, others on their torso, elbows, knees, etc.

How does it develop? 

It typically appears in your twenties, and the exact cause is not understood; what is known is there are genetic factors – having a parent with psoriasis increases the likelihood of their child later developing psoriasis, but this is not the full story – environmental factors play a role too. 

Can someone catch it? 

Psoriasis is not contagious; the misunderstanding of this is a major psychological issue for sufferers, as people will often avoid them for fear of catching their skin condition. Sufferers are already often acutely aware of the appearance of their skin, and such avoidance behaviour serves only to reinforce negative self image, to the detriment of quality of life. We must all make an effort to not avoid people just because the have a skin rash, and to educate others to do the same.

What do you recommend for someone who has it to treat the symptoms and how does Suu Balm work? 

Firstly, this is a chronic condition, and so the management is long term. You will need to seek expert advice, and you will need to build a support network of family and friends. Your general practitioner can refer you to a dermatologist for expert input on treatments. Some people will also seek out dietary remedies and alternative medicines – there is nothing wrong with this, but you need to be very well informed about what you are taking or using, to ensure that there will not be any long term negative effects on your health. Suu Balm is effective at relieving itch, and also repairing the skin barrier defect that results in the affected areas of skin drying out – it forms one part of the holistic management of psoriasis, albeit one that relieves one of the most frustrating of symptoms – itch.

I have psoriasis on the back of my head, can I use Suu Balm on my hair line? 

Yes, you can use Suu Balm on your hair line. I have good news on this too – in the near future we will be bringing out a spray version specifically designed for use on the scalp – so keep an eye out on our Facebook and website for more news.

How effective is menthol to treat it? 

The role of menthol is to relieve itch, not cure your psoriasis; it is very effective at relieving itch – in two user surveys we have found that ~90% of users get relief from itch within 5 minutes, and in a clinical study we demonstrated sustained reduction in itch over a one month period of usage of Suu Balm. Relieving itch is important because scratching can tear the skin, resulting in secondary infection, and result in scarring and long term thickening of the skin, and also persistence of exacerbations of the disease.

Can it be cured? 

Psoriasis cannot yet be cured, though advances in treatment, in particular with targeted biologic therapies, bring the hope of much better control of the condition in the longer term.