If you were to peruse the “psoriasis” hashtag on Instagram, you would find not hundreds or thousands but millions of candid photos from folks living with the common skin condition. You would also find that most of those psoriasis posts come from women—not men.
Despite the silence from the male gender on social media though, psoriasis affects both sexes equally. And, get this: men are more likely than women to have severe psoriasis. Still, the chances of guys going to the doctor to get their skin checked out are significantly lower. Keep reading to find out why this is—plus some expert-approved, guy-specific psoriasis care and treatment options.
Men and Psoriasis: The Unique Risks
In a Swedish study that looked at 5,438 patients with psoriasis, researchers found that women have a significantly lower incidence of severe psoriasis compared to men. What they couldn't decipher? The reason why. What this study highlights are how important it is for men to seek the appropriate help and care for severe psoriasis, especially given the associated comorbidities.
Case in point. Men with psoriasis are more at risk of getting both cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. In fact, according to research in the American Journal of Cardiology, those with severe forms of psoriasis are more likely to develop a heart disease under age 60.
Unfortunately, men with psoriasis are more likely to wait over two years longer than women to see a physician about their psoriasis. This is due to a variety of factors, including shame surrounding skin conditions and the pressure that some men feel to simply “walk things off” or fix a problem themselves. Also, the mere fact that men tend to be less concerned or spend less time worrying about their physical appearance than women can come into play, too.
One form of condition does, however, seem to get guys to a doctor faster, and that's scalp psoriasis. The flaky red patches on the head are more noticeable, especially when the hair is short, which is probably why they seek treatment quicker than they would if it were located somewhere else on the body.
Where Else Does Psoriasis Show Up on Guys?
Same as their female counterparts, the most common type of psoriasis that men encounter is plaque psoriasis, which is characterized by scaly, thickened patches of skin with a silvery appearance and defined edges. In both sexes, this type is most prevalent on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back. It can also appear in the genital area.
For the most part, men experience psoriasis in mostly the same places as women, but according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, men are more likely to experience genital psoriasis, which can be especially uncomfortable because it appears in ultra-sensitive areas. This form of psoriasis is even more difficult for men to talk about with understandable reason, but seeking treatment is always paramount over anything else when it comes to our health.
What Are the Best Treatments for Men?
Because men tend to be more severely affected by psoriasis, there is a higher proportion of men treated with systemic or ultraviolet treatment compared to women. But, there’s a host of effective treatment options available for men with mild, moderate, and severe psoriasis, such as:
- Topical Steroids: Also known as corticosteroids, these topical agents work to reduce inflammation and slow down skin-cell growth, thereby dramatically decreasing the number of psoriasis plaques you get. They come in a variety of different forms, too, including creams, gels, ointments, oils, sprays, and foams, though men tend to prefer the latter over creams and ointments as they’re less greasy and easier to apply.
- Vitamin D:Topical forms of vitamin D help can help slow down the growth of new skin cells and reduce psoriasis plaques. Dovonex cream, or calcipotriene, is a man-made form of vitamin D that’s commonly used to treat plaque psoriasis, though you should not use it if you have high levels of calcium in your blood, or if you already have a high level of vitamin D in your body, which can happen if you overdose on supplements.
- Phototherapy: Also called light therapy, this treatment involves using ultraviolet light on affected areas of the skin, which can help reduce the size, itchiness, and overall appearance of psoriasis plaques. It can be extremely effective, with an estimated 75% of people developing clear skin when they undergo treatments two to three times a week for up to a month.
- Even more: The clear skin can last for at least six months. That begin said, it does come with an increased risk of skin cancer, so doctors advise patients to limit their lifetime usage of phototherapy to 150 sessions. The most common form of phototherapy is narrow-band UVB, as it limits the light wavelengths used in the treatment in order to keep the possible side effects to a minimum.
- Manuka Honey: As odd as it sounds, manuka honey has well become a very effective remedy for soothing the outbreaks of psoriasis. Filled with antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and hydrating properties, this honey is more targeted and potent than other kinds of honey. It’s nourishing and calming effects it has on the skin helps to reduce the severity of psoriasis while also healing and moisturizing the skin at the same time.
What Are Some Surprising Psoriasis Triggers?
There’s a wide range of triggers for psoriasis, running the gamut from certain foods to run-of-the-mill stress and so much more. Here are a few to try to steer clear from, especially if you’re a man with psoriasis:
- Red meat and dairy: Both red meat and dairy contain a polyunsaturated fat called arachidonic acid, which can easily convert into inflammatory compounds and may exacerbate psoriasis symptoms.
- Smoking: Need another reason to kick the habit? Turns out, lighting up can kickstart psoriasis inflammation. And, you should also be wary of the company you keep. One study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who were exposed to secondhand smoke had an increased risk of developing psoriasis.
- Cuts and scrapes: Accidents happen, but you should know about an interesting aspect of psoriasis called the Koebner phenomenon, in which traumatizing the skin can cause you to develop psoriasis in that area. Just FYI.
- Stress: Researchers believe that psoriasis and stress go hand in hand. This is because mental and emotional anxiety causes the body to release chemicals that create an inflammatory response, thus resulting in a psoriasis flare-up. Of course, psoriasis is already stressful, which is why it’s so important to find tactics to help self-soothe and minimize stress as much as possible in other areas.
Psoriasis Skin Care for Men
Even if you’re not comfortable discussing your psoriasis with friends or family, it’s still critical that men take the necessary measures to get control of their psoriasis triggers. The first step and the most important is taking care of your skin. Whether you have a bathroom full of men’s brand skin care or you’re not one to fuss about with it all, there’s a simple solution!
Wild Naturals has a full line of psoriasis skin care products that are easy to use and add to your regular hygiene routine. Instead of using drying soap, try our Eczema & Psoriasis Face & Body Wash – the perfect two-in-one for men! We also have a shampoo and conditioner specifically for scalp psoriasis that you can transition into using rather than a heavily fragranced one that will irritate it further.
When you have psoriasis, you have to take the time to care for your skin or you’ll potentially be stuck with terrible patches and scars for the rest of your life. Our Eczema & Psoriasis Cream is perfect for applying when its triggered and you need fast relief – and it’s all-natural!
Shop our online store today and make it easy for men with psoriasis to get on top of it at long last!