Psoriasis And Massage

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart

My Grandmother has psoriasis over 100% of her body and she suffered for many years with psoriatic arthritis which is the most painful and debilitating form of arthritis.

The following article discusses the benefits of massage for sufferers of psoriasis:

Massage for Psoriasis: Is It Safe?

Massage is great for reducing inflammation and stress, two key benefits for people with psoriasis. Here’s how to get a massage that’s right for you and your psoriasis.

A therapeutic massage session can reduce inflammation and provide stress relief. Both are welcome benefits if you are one of the 7.5 million Americans who has psoriasis — a chronic skin condition that causes scaling and inflammation.

A study of male bicyclists in the February 2012 issue of Science Translational Medicine showed that massage helps reduce inflammation and promotes the growth of new mitochondria, the energy factories of the cells.

As many as 30 percent of people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis, which causes persistent pain in the joints. Massage has been shown to relieve joint pain.

So you want a massage and you have psoriasis. Do you need to do anything special for bodywork with this condition? Not really, but here are a few ideas you might want to keep in mind:

Tell all up front. The National Psoriasis Foundation suggests that when you call for your massage appointment, you tell the receptionist you have psoriasis. “You can ask if they have a therapist who has worked on or is comfortable with people with psoriasis,” said Winona Bontrager, president of the Lancaster School of Massage in Lancaster, Pa., and president of the American Massage Therapy Association. You can find a qualified massage therapist in your area on the AMTA website.

“It’s not contagious.” Massage therapists should know that massage and psoriasis can be a good idea, as psoriasis is not contagious, Bontrager noted. “But it’s not a bad thing to make sure your therapist knows she can’t catch it from you.”

Go gently. Injuring your skin can cause your psoriasis to flare. Your therapist might want to avoid areas that are red and inflamed. “There’s nothing the therapist has to avoid per se,” Bontrager said, “but I tend to do something that’s less intense when someone wants a massage and has psoriasis.”

Ask for a Swedish massage. A Swedish massage includes long strokes and kneading. Swedish massage can increase circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system, a major part of the immune system. “A Swedish massage can help your immune system to make sure everything is moving,” explained Bontrager. Other types of massage that may work for people with psoriasis are deep tissue massage, reflexology, shiatsu, and acupressure. Talk with your massage therapist about which will work best for you.

Bring your own oils. Bontrager said she’s used many different kinds of lotions and oils and never had anyone say, “Oh, that’s not comfortable.” But if you have moisturizers and skin oils that help your psoriasis, you might want to bring them and ask your massage therapist to use them.

Avoid inflamed joints. If you have psoriatic arthritis and your joints are hot and inflamed, tell your massage therapist. The therapist should avoid the joints that are actively inflamed. Otherwise you may benefit from whole bodywork when you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.

Paying for Bodywork for Psoriasis

On average, a massage costs about $60 an hour, though costs vary considerably depending on where you live. Will your insurance cover massage if it’s therapeutic? “That’s so individual,” Bontrager said. “If people are getting massages prescribed by their physician, the likelihood of getting them covered is greater.” You should check with your health insurance provider.

Massage Safety for Psoriasis

Massage is generally safe for people with psoriasis. Massage has the benefit of not only stimulating your circulation and reducing inflammation but also providing stress relief. “Lots of people fall asleep or doze off a little when they’re getting a massage,” Bontrager said. “That’s how relaxing it can be.” Massage is great for stress relief, and when it comes to massage and psoriasis, you may appreciate that.

Based on my personal experience with psoriasis I would like to further expand on this:

Having lived with my grandmother I came to understand more about just how fragile her skin was. With psoriasis the skin is frequently dying and regrowing which leaves it weak and prone to tearing, sometimes simply bumping into something was enough to tear my grandmothers skin open, conversely her skin regenerated so rapidly that her tears healed up very quickly as well.

The article pointed out that the massage should be Swedish and gentle, the article also states that “there is nothing a therapist has to avoid per se” but I would caution you to keep in mind that depending on the severity of the psoriasis certain techniques such as Myofascial Release where there is stretching and pulling of the skin could cause weakened areas of the skin to break open, so please treat effected areas with caution.

In most cases of psoriasis the client usually has only some effected areas to be cautious with, in my grandmothers case it was her entire body. The skin may be sensitive so check with the client about any products you may wish to use or have them bring in whatever they use.

My grandmother used Aquaphor to condition and repair her skin but coconut oil would also be a good choice to use for the massage as it is natural, conditioning, and antibacterial.

It is advised not to massage during an arthritis flareup as you may further irritate the already inflamed tissues, avoid areas that are red or hot to the touch.

I would also like to point out that many PPO insurances DO cover medical massage with or without a prescription from your doctor, so if cost is a factor for you consider going to a Chiropractic or Wellness center that offers massage billing to insurance companies.

Yours in Health and Wellness,
Kristeen Smart AKA Kristeen Kish
CAMTC Certified Massage Therapist