Dermatitis / Psoriasis / Pruritis

Pruritis refers to itching felt in any body part, sometimes to the extent of feeling painful. Most commonly we think of itching as related to conditions of the skin. There are several conditions that involve skin itching, or pruritis. A viral or bacterial rash can result in skin itching which clears as the infection clears. Chronic skin conditions that result in pruritis and inflammation include eczema and psoriasis.

 

                Eczema – is an itching, scaling, swelling rash on the skin, also referred to as dermatitis. It can be caused by an allergic reaction to something touched, called “contact dermatitis”, or can be caused by internal allergies to environmental triggers or foods. In eczema the affected skin becomes inflamed, dry and thickened. There may be encrusted scaling lesions or patches of redness. It is a common problem, affecting 3-7% of the population. Eczema has a genetic predisposition and is associated with other allergic problems.

 

                Psoriasis – is a skin disorder caused by overgrowth of skin cells resulting in thick scaly red plaques. Typically scales appear bilaterally on elbows, knees, ears and also on the scalp. It affects about 2% of the population. It does not involve an allergic process, but rather a cellular dysregulation. Theories of abnormal T- lymphocyte immune mechanisms have been proposed. Psoriasis does not generally itch, but patients may pick at the scabs and cause pruritis as a secondary problem. About 10% of the time psoriatic arthritis accompanies this disorder resulting in joint pain.

 

Standard medical treatments:

Corticosteroids topically

DMARDS) – Methotrexate, Cyclosporine

Treat underlying allergic problem

Avoid skin irritants

 

Supportive and alternative treatments:

Nutritional – avoidance of allergic foods and toxins

Fish oil / flax oil – anti-inflammatory

Raw food detoxifying diet for the digestive system and the liver

Vitamin A – reduces thickening of the skin

Quercitin – anti-histamine bioflavonoid

Vitamin C – antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

Herbal –

Burdock root – helps to detoxify

Calendula salve – heals irritated skin

Aloe vera gel – soothes ulcerated skin

Coleus forskolii – anti-histamine

Pine bark or tar ointments

Homeopathy

Acupuncture

Relaxation therapies

 

Skin Disorders/Itching and Cannabis

British researchers reported in the 2003 that the peripheral administration of a synthetic cannabinoid agonist significantly reduced experimentally-induced itch in 12 subjects. In 2006, German researchers reported that 22 patients with prurigo, lichen simplex and pruritus who applied an emollient cream with a cannabinoid agonist the average reduction in itch was 86.4%. “Topical cannabinoid agonists represent a new effective and well-tolerated therapy for refractory itching of various origins. Creams with a higher concentration may be even more effective with broader indications.”

In a 2007 articles entitled “New frontier for medical cannabis — topical pot”, topical THC was reported to act as an anti-inflammatory and help mice heal faster from skin allergies. The use of topical cannabis for skin disorders ranging from itching, to scaling, swelling and redness has been gaining popularity among medical marijuana patients, and often can substitute for  steroid creams or other medications.