Check with doctors before going herbal, psoriasis patients told

Saman Haziq
Filed on November 23, 2019 | Last updated on November 23, 2019 at 10.32 pm


Psoriasis affects about 125 million people across the globe.

Psoriasis is a skin disorder with no cure and requires treatment to control symptoms and flare-ups - but not all patients are ready to accept the need for life-long medications.

Some choose to fully rely on alternatives and this can be dangerous, experts said.

Dr Ahmed Mohsen Ameen, a specialist at the dermatology department of NMC Specialty Hospital in Abu Dhabi, said psoriasis is no longer a skin condition, it is a multisystem disease that can adversely affect joints, nails, the cardiac system and eyes.

Once, a patient came up to him with active skin psoriasis with mild arthritis, joint tenderness and swelling.

"Unfortunately the patient refused to take medicines as he thought they were harmful and toxic. Instead, he tried changing his lifestyle and turned to herbal treatment," Dr Ameen said.

Nine months later, he came back saying that he was admitted in a hospital with frozen joints and was not able to move for three weeks.

"Sadly, his psoriasis affected the sacroiliac joint and made significant erosions and destruction to the joint," the doctor said.

While a psoriasis cure is yet to be discovered, it can be easily controlled with new biologic treatment modalities and, hence, improve a patient's quality of life, Dr Ameen said.

He added that early treatment would make a difference. "This would not only help in treating the disease with minimum complications but also prevent the onset of other diseases."

Millions affected

Psoriasis affects about 125 million people across the globe and it is said to be caused by an overactive immune system.

Typically, skin cells are replaced every 28 to 30 days. But for those with psoriasis, new cells grow and move to the surface every three to four days.

The extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes painful.
Dr Sonia Wilson, specialist dermatologist at RAK Hospital, said evidence suggests that the prevalence of psoriasis may be rising worldwide and in the UAE.

"According to the World Psoriasis Day consortium, about two to three per cent of the total population have psoriasis. In the UAE, around 4.3 per cent suffers from this disease and 8,000 new cases are diagnosed every year," she said.

The disease is believed to be related to problems with the immune system and considered a hereditary condition.

"According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, one in three patients with psoriasis report having a relative with the condition. If one parent is affected, an offspring has about a 10 per cent chance of having psoriasis. If both parents have the disease, an offspring has approximately a 50 per cent chance of developing it."

Psoriasis, she said, may start or worsen because of some triggers, such as infections, certain medications, smoking, stress, heavy alcohol consumption, vitamin D deficiency, skin injuries, bite reactions, getting a tattoo or piercing, or a severe sunburn. These triggers should be identified and avoided, Dr Wilson advised.

Controlling this genetic condition requires proper management and it's not always easy, she explained. "I have a patient who had tried various medication and creams since the condition manifested 20 years ago.

"After years of trying and testing different treatments, he is now on a medication that has worked for him to the extent that almost 90 per cent of the skin on his body is cleared," she said. "The genetic makeup of the condition lives within him, so he has to be on life-long medication."

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