It is estimated that around 3% of the entire world’s population suffer from some form of psoriasis. The chronic skin condition can come in many forms, is quite common, and can vary in severity. But even though this skin condition can be uncomfortable and unattractive, it causes no significant problems in regards to your health.
Below you will find the latest information on this common skin disease; what psoriasis is, the symptoms and signs, causes and risk factors, and treatment options. With the proper care and treatment-choices, you can keep psoriasis and its effects under control.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is “an immune-mediated disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin“. The disease affects your immune system by speeding up the life cycle of your skin cells. The speeding process causes cells to build up quicker than they should; forming on the surface of the skin. These extra cells form red patches and scales that can be itchy and painful. The condition can come and go, vary in severity, and form these patches on almost anywhere on the body.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but it can be managed with the proper treatment. Other than its unattractive appearance and discomfort, the condition can cause other issues within the body (depending on the type). The cause of the condition can be related to both genetics and the immune system, but the exact reason is still unknown.
Types of Psoriasis
Since the disease can form in many ways, there are five main types; each with its own characteristics.
Plaque is the most common type and it is characterized by dry, red, raised skin that could be itchy or painful. It can occur anywhere on the body.
The guttate type appears as dot-like lesions on the surface of the skin and can be triggered by other deficiencies in your immune system, like the appearance of strep throat.
This type appears more like white pustules (blisters) that are surrounded by red skin.
It affects more sensitive areas of the body, like the armpits or groin. It is characterized by smooth patches of red skin that usually worsen with sweating or friction. Inverse psoriasis can be triggered by the presence of fungal infections.
This type is considered the most severe type, but also the least common. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, it usually appears on those who have unmanaged psoriasis. It leads to fiery-redness that spreads all over the body, causing extreme pain and itching.
The condition can also cause psoriatic arthritis, which is characterized by swollen, painful joints. This form of arthritis can cause stiffness in the joints and is typically considered a much milder form.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
The signs and symptoms of psoriasis can vary for each individual. Each type of this skin disease can also have its own characteristics and symptoms. If you believe you have this skin disease, it is important to consult your physician as soon as possible to begin a treatment regimen. The most common signs include:
- Patches of red skin that are covered with thick scales.
- Dry, cracked skin that could become extremely irritated or bleed.
- Burning, itching, or soreness on the surface of the skin.
- Small, dot-like spots.
- Thick, pitting or ridging on the nails.
Remember that the various types of psoriasis can occur on any area of the body. You may also experience more severe symptoms with more severe types, like loss of appetite, muscle weakness, joint pain/discomfort, chills, and increased heart-rate.
What Causes Psoriasis?
The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, but scientists do know that genetics and the immune system can play a serious role. In many cases, something occurs within the body to trigger the psoriasis to flare up. The changes in your skin begin when particular immune cells become overactive after being triggered.
Psoriasis can be caused by number of factors, like an injury to the skin, hormonal changes, infections, certain medications, as well as family history. It is important to remember though that anybody can develop it. Psoriasis is not contagious and cannot be “caught” by someone who has it.
- If you have a family history of psoriasis, you may be more likely to develop the disease.
- Psoriasis usually occurs between the ages of 15-30, but people of all ages can develop it. People between the ages of 50 and 60 are also at a higher risk.
- Caucasian people are at an increased risk over any other race; thought to be because of the natural fairness of the skin.
- Inverse and guttate types are more often found in infants and young children.
- Men and women have an equal chance of developing psoriasis.
- Suffering from infections or viruses like strep throat or taking certain medications can increase your risk.
- Excessive stress, anxiety, alcohol-use, and smoke have also been attributed to the development of psoriasis.
How to Treat Psoriasis
After a doctor diagnoses your psoriasis, there are a variety of treatment methods. Your treatment will be determined by type, severity, and other medical history. It is important to consult your doctor before beginning any treatment.
If you have a mild form, you can use topical treatments. Topical solutions come in prescription-form or over-the-counter. They can come in the form of lotions, moisturizers, soaps, as well as shampoos. It is important to look at ingredients before using these types of products, to ensure skin sensitives are considered. They can be used multiple times a day and can range in expense.
If you have moderate to severe psoriasis, there are also quite a few things to try. You can use a combination of treatment strategies that include topical solutions and/or medications. Your doctor can prescribe medicine that can help balance out your immune system, repair skin, and even decrease your stress level. Your doctor may also recommend phototherapy (or light therapy) to help reduce inflammation in the skin.
Psoriasis can affect your life in a significant way, but with the proper treatment it doesn’t have to control your life. With the correct management, you can keep your condition in-check and get back to living your life to the fullest. For all of your questions and needs, please remember to consult your physician or dermatologist right away.