Skin deep

Posted by watchmen
February 4, 2020
Posted in OPINION


People with gums in poor condition may be prone to an itchy skin disease.

That is true, anyway, to Americans as reflected in a study conducted by dermatologists or skin specialists at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

According to the dermatologists, dental health and diet may have an impact on the development and severity of psoriasis, a skin disease that causes thick, red patches on the skin. The disease affects more than 8 million Americans. At its most severe, itchy skin may cover the whole body. It could be painful. And it could last a lifetime

“Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease so although it often presents as red, scaly patches on the skin, we know that the causes and consequences are more than skin deep,” said Dr. Benjamin Kaffenberger, the dermatologist who led the study.

“We’re looking for some sort of trigger that sets off the immune system,” he said.

Psoriasis is triggered by a problematic immune system when skin cells rise to the surface of the skin. The rapid buildup of the extra cells on the surface of the skin forms scales and red patches.

“Because strep throat is one of the known triggers and the microbiome of bacteria in the mouth is much more complex, that became our starting point,” Dr. Kaffenberger explained.

He and co-researchers were interested if poor dental health could be a risk factor for the skin ailment.

Their study, published in Dermatology Online Journal, involved psoriasis patients who rated their gum health. A hundred patients with psoriasis and 165 without the skin disease at Ohio State’s dermatology clinics answered a lifestyle and diet questionnaire.

The study found that poor dental and oral health, especially gum pain, were common among those with psoriasis.

“Patients who had more severe psoriasis were more likely to report that their gums were in worse condition than patients who didn’t have mild to moderate psoriasis in the first place,” Dr. Kaffenberger told Amy Colgan, a contributor to the Ohio State News.

Dr. Kaffenberger added that while the study findings are very preliminary, dermatologists may screen patients for dental health issues.

There is no cure for psoriasis but the symptoms may be managed by moisturizing creams as well as medicines and ultraviolet light that stop or delay the skin cells from surfacing on the skin.

The study provides an option: make sure that your gum condition is healthy. “The key is to protect your gums and your mouth by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing, Dr. Kaffenberger said.

And yes, fruits may prevent the skin ailment. “Patients who had higher fruit consumption reported less significant psoriasis, indicating fruit and potentially fresh foods may be an associated protective factor,” Dr. Kaffenberger said.

Previous studies have also found that smoking and obesity are significant risk factors of psoriasis. “Lifestyle changes include quitting smoking, avoiding high alcohol consumption and properly managing diabetes,” Dr. Kaffenberger said./WDJ

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