Psoriasis Through the Ages
Did you know that people with psoriasis were once considered outcasts because of their skin issues? Yup, it’s true. And would you believe that urine was used as a treatment in ancient times? That’s true, too. Here, take a look back at the history of this skin condition.
Psoriasis Sufferers Were Shunned From Society in Biblical Times
Some experts say psoriasis may have been one of the skin conditions called “tzaarath” in the Old Testament. Tzaarath, a punishment for sin, reflected a common belief of the time that people with psoriasis had brought it upon themselves. And thanks to popular misconceptions back in the day — including that it was contagious — many with psoriasis were ostracized from society. Some were even burned at the stake. (Aren’t you happy you weren’t alive then?!)
The Word Psoriasis Used to Mean Something Else
In 200 B.C., the Greek physician Galen coined the term psoriasis, derived from the Greek word “psora” (to itch). But the condition he was talking about — scaly skin on the eyelids and scrotum — was what we now call seborrheic dermatitis. We didn’t get the first accurate definition of psoriasis as it’s known today until much later — the 1800s, in fact — when Robert Willan, the English physician considered the founder of modern dermatology, described it as circular or oval skin lesions topped with dry scales and surrounded by a red border.
Urine Was One of the First Treatment Options
There are plenty of psoriasis remedies you can try to calm your irritation, like tea tree oil, tumeric, or fish oil. But one of the first known therapies happens to be the weirdest. Documented in the ancient text known as the Papyrus Ebers, one of the earliest treatment options involved a bizarre concoction of onions, sea salt, and urine.
So Was Pine Tar
You’ve no doubt seen pine tar in the news such as when Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda used it to get a better grip on his baseball — and was subsequently suspended for 10 games (although players are allowed to use pine tar on their bats). But did you know that pine tar — a sticky substance produced from pine wood — was found to soothe psoriasis symptoms? Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine, used it to treat psoriasis in the 5th century B.C. You can still find soaps containing pine tar to treat skin irritation to this day.
Your Kitty Could Give You Psoriasis
In 1872, Heinrich Koebner, a German dermatologist, made a seriously major revelation about the condition. He noticed that skin that had recently been damaged by animal bites, tattoos, or other traumas were more likely to develop psoriasis lesions. We still call this the Koebner phenomenon today.