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Ask the Dermatologist: Katie Explains Some of her Wildest Questions About Psoriasis and CSU

Whether it’s pets or self-tanner, Dr. Katie has encountered her fair share of interesting psoriasis and CSU questions.

Dr. Katie Beleznay is a clinical instructor with the University of British Columbia Department of Dermatology. She focuses her research in the areas of acne, rosacea, psoriasis and photoprotection. You can follow Dr. Beleznay on Twitter and LinkedIn.

I see hundreds of patients every week to help diagnose and treat every sort of skin condition imaginable. Many of my patients, and especially those with chronic conditions like psoriasis and chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU), come to their appointment armed with a laundry list of questions for me about causes and treatments. Unfortunately, in today’s age of instant access to information online, there is a great deal of misinformation that spreads.

And this leads to me fielding some pretty interesting questions. People have asked about their pets, what they’ve seen on TV and even certain homeopathic ideas. While some of these questions can cause us to chuckle, there’s no question too silly to ask – any concern is one that should be addressed with your dermatologist. Having accurate information about your skin condition is incredibly important. So, I thought I would share some actual questions I’ve received from patients, along with answers to help clear up any misconceptions.

Can I get psoriasis from my pet?

I have been asked this question more than once. “Is my dog the reason for my psoriasis?” or “Can I get psoriasis from my hamster?” The answer to both questions is no. Psoriasis is a non-communicable condition,[i],[ii] meaning it can’t be passed from person to person or, in this case, animal to person. As much as I wish it was this easy, giving up your dog or hamster won’t cure your psoriasis. Plus, if you give them up, you’ll never come home to find your pet reading Skintolivein.com.


Will going on a vegan/raw food/gluten-free diet or a food/juice cleanse cure my CSU?


Food may be a trigger for acute urticaria, but evidence for its role in causing chronic urticaria is lacking.[i] If you find that certain foods tend to cause flare-ups, it is best to avoid them, but there is no specific evidence linking diet to CSU (or psoriasis for that matter). There are lots of other benefits that come with changes in diet, but a cure for CSU is sadly not known to be one of them.


Will breast milk help relieve my psoriasis?


This question started popping up A LOT lately. I was trying to figure out why, and then realized that Kim Kardashian applied her sister’s breast milk to her psoriasis on their show and fans by the hundreds thought that this was the elixir that could cure their psoriasis (thanks, Kim and Kourtney). While it may not hurt, there is no scientific evidence to support that breast milk soothes psoriasis. So, maybe save the breast milk for actual babies.




(If Kim K. told you to wear chocolate on your face, would you? Don’t answer that.)


I’ve heard that tanning is good to relieve psoriasis, so can I apply a self-tanning lotion to relieve it as well?


First, as a dermatologist I never recommend tanning due to the dangers of skin cancer.[ii] However, studies have shown that physician directed phototherapy - exposing the skin to ultraviolet light on a regular basis and under medical supervision[iii] -may be effective.[iv] Having said that, I’m afraid self-tanning lotion will not be beneficial. As always, consult with your dermatologist about anything that you may put on your skin.


Though they only represent a tiny glimpse at all the uncertainty that exists around psoriasis and CSU, I hope sharing these questions here is helpful. Always be sure to ask your dermatologist if there is anything you aren’t sure about – and I mean ANYTHING. I always encourage my patients to ask me all of their questions (no matter how strange they may seem), because it’s important to have all the facts about your skin when you are living with a chronic condition.


So, to summarize: Ask all the questions, have all the facts, and save the breast milk for babies.  


[i] Website “Mayo Clinic” — Symptoms. Last accessed: 06.17.15 http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/basics/symptoms/con-20030838

[ii] National Psoriasis Foundation. October, 2015 https://www.psoriasis.org/life-with-psoriasis/depression

[iii] Website “US National Library of Medicine” — Chronic urticaria: importance of a medical-psychological approach http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17058846

[iv]The role of psychological stress in skin disease. Kimyai-Asadi A, Usman A. J Cutan Med Surg. 2001 Mar-Apr;5(2):140-5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=11443487

[v] Website “WebMD” — The Psychological Cost of Psoriasis http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/psoriasis/coping-with-psoriasis

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