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Psoriasis and the Use of Probiotics

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Probiotics are live microbes that help control the clinical symptoms of chronic conditions such as psoriasis. The below article details the same.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. V. Srikanth Reddy

Published At August 17, 2022
Reviewed AtJanuary 2, 2024

What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by red, itchy, scaly patches on the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp. Psoriasis usually happens in early adulthood. In most cases, it affects only a few areas of the body. However, in severe cases, psoriasis can cover large body parts. The patches resolve and come back throughout a person's life. Psoriasis is not contagious, so it cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

What Causes Psoriasis?

Since it is an autoimmune disease, an immune system problem causes the skin to regenerate faster than average. Usually, skin cells are replaced every 10 to 30 days, but in psoriasis, new cells grow every three to four days. This buildup of old cells replaced by new cells creates silver scales. Other factors that trigger an outbreak of psoriasis are:

  • Infections like strep throat or skin infections.

  • Dry weather.

  • Prolonged sun exposure.

  • Skin injuries such as cuts or scrapes, sunburn, insect bites, or surgery.

  • Emotional stress.

  • Smoking.

  • Heavy alcoholism.

  • Certain medications such as antimalarial drugs, antibiotics, and blood pressure medication.

  • Obesity.

  • Tattoos.

  • Hormonal changes, especially in women. For example, puberty and menopause.

  • Immune disorders, like HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), can cause psoriasis to flare up or appear for the first time.

What Does Psoriasis Look Like?

The signs and symptoms of psoriasis can vary from person to person. The most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Red patches of skin, often covered with thick, silvery scales.

  • Tiny scaling spots are often seen in children.

  • Dry, itchy, cracked skin that may bleed.

  • Discolored, pitted, or ridged nails.

  • Swollen and stiff joints.

  • Itching, burning, or soreness.

  • The crust on the scalp.

What Are the Conventional Treatments for Psoriasis?

Traditional treatments for psoriasis depend on the severity and location of clinical symptoms, individual response, and age. Treatments for mild to moderate psoriasis include:

  • Topical corticosteroids.

  • Topical retinoids, including Vitamin A.

  • Vitamin D contains creams or ointments.

  • Salicylic acid.

  • Coal tar.

  • Moisturizers for dry skin.

  • Treatments available for severe outbreaks include:

  • Systemic drugs.

  • Cyclosporine.

  • Immunosuppressants.

  • Biologic treatments.

  • Methotrexate.

  • Phototherapy and laser therapies when combined with other treatments.

  • Enzyme inhibitor.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are good bacteria with various health benefits. The human body contains trillions of them, and the collection of these microbes called a microbiome, is different for every person. Probiotics help strengthen the immune system and impede the growth of harmful gut bacteria. In addition, they stimulate the cells that regulate inflammation, thus, affecting the immune system’s inflammatory response. Recent research suggests that probiotics can positively control and prevent inflammation caused by psoriasis. Some strains that have shown the most promise for reducing psoriasis symptoms and preventing chronic skin inflammation include Lactobacillus paracasei, Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus salivarius, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus.

How Can Probiotics Be Added to the Daily Regime through Dietary Sources?

Adding probiotic-rich foods to the diet is the easiest way to introduce these ‘good bacteria’ into the system. These foods are easily digested and help maintain a healthy microbial balance in the gut. However, their probiotic content can vary, and many bacteria are destroyed by stomach acid before reaching the gut. The following are the probiotic-rich foods:

  • Yogurt.

  • Pickles.

  • Soybeans.

  • Fermented cheese.

  • Kefir is a fermented, probiotic milk drink.

  • Kombucha tea.

  • Acidophilus milk.

  • Sourdough bread.

  • Probiotic supplements are another good option to treat psoriasis by modulating inflammatory mechanisms in the body. However, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before taking a probiotic supplement.

  • Yeast with probiotic properties, such as Saccharomyces boulardii, may be a beneficial probiotic supplement for psoriasis as it can restore the function and strength of intestinal cells.

How Do Probiotics Control Psoriasis?

Individuals with psoriasis often have higher amounts of inflammation-causing bacteria in their intestines. Adding probiotics to their diet may balance the intestine’s bacterial mix. In addition, probiotics stimulate the body’s T cells, and these cells regulate the immune system, probiotics can also reduce inflammation. A growing body of literature has revealed that probiotics effectively alleviate psoriasis symptoms. Following are past researches that provide evidence that probiotics can help with psoriasis.

  • The previous studies found that certain probiotics, including Lactobacillus salivarius LA307 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus LA305, can reduce and may prevent chronic inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis.

  • Another study conducted in mice considered the effects of Lactobacillus pentosus GMNL-77 on psoriasis, and the study revealed that this strain could prevent skin inflammation and reduce biomarkers of inflammation.

  • A study conducted in 2012 looked at the probiotic treatment of a woman with pustular psoriasis. She was put on the probiotic Lactobacillus. Lactobacillus is mainly used in producing yogurt, cheese, and fermented foods. Within two weeks, her skin lesions began to fade.

  • Another 2013 study examined the effects of the probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 on people with psoriasis. Researchers concluded that taking the oral probiotic effectively reduced the biomarkers for inflammation.

  • Lactobacillus paracasei CNCM-I 2116 can ease skin inflammation in vitro by preventing TNF-α release, mast cell degranulation, vasodilation, and edema (fluid-filled swelling), thus accelerating the recovery of barrier function.

Although there is promising evidence, further research is needed to learn about the safety and effectiveness of probiotics. Adding probiotics to healthy people’s diets may cause minor side effects. However, in individuals with weakened immune systems, probiotics may cause certain complications, such as systemic infections.

What Are the Points to Remember When Starting the Psoriasis Regimen?

For people with psoriasis who decide to add probiotics to their psoriasis regimen, the following issues are important:

  • Keep a log to record which probiotics are added and the results after adding them, as this may help track any changes or improvements.

  • Stick to the psoriasis regimen. Keep the skin lubricated and clean, use the recommended ointments or creams, and take prescribed oral medications on schedule. See a doctor if any unusual symptoms appear.

Conclusion:

Probiotics are an effective way to restore gut health and reduce inflammation caused by psoriasis. They contain live microbes that help in managing the symptoms of chronic health conditions. Further research is needed to know more about its benefits and risks. Every individual's microbiome is unique so a person may require a combination of probiotic strains. Always consult a healthcare provider before taking probiotic supplements.

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Dr. V. Srikanth Reddy
Dr. V. Srikanth Reddy

Dermatology

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