Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder caused due to an overactive immune system which promotes rapid and abnormal growth of skin cells in the body. This abnormal growth of skin cells causes scaling on the exterior skin. Psoriasis commonly affects the elbows, arms, scalp and the knees. People also report that it causes extreme inflammation that leads to itching, and other serious health issues. Psoriasis is also associated with chronic health conditions such as depression, diabetes and heart diseases.
Redness and inflammation around the flaky skin are normal. The skin of a person with psoriasis appears whitish-silver and advance in thick, red patches. At times, these patches may split and drain.
Skin cells develop under the outer layer, the epidermis. On an average, the normal life cycle of skin cells is 5-6 weeks and usually slows down as we grow older. In individuals suffering from psoriasis, this growth procedure may occur in only a few days. As a result, the skin cells don’t have sufficient energy to tumble off.
Scales usually are noticed on the joints. However, they spread to other parts of the body, including:
Less common forms of psoriasis affect the mouth, nails, and the region surrounding the genitals.
According to a study carried out by the World Psoriasis Day Consortium, 125 million people all over the world (2-3 percent of the world’s population) are affected by psoriasis. Other studies state that 10-30 percent of people affected by psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, and is also linked with other health conditions, such as:
Although the condition is known to be a cause of rapid skin cell multiplication, the exact cause for this to occur is still not confirmed. However, a general understanding of two important factors that can be potential causes for psoriasis to affect an individual is:
Genetics can be a factor that triggers abnormal cell growth in the body. However, the number of individuals who have psoriasis and a genetic predisposition is less. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about 2-3 percent of the individuals develop psoriasis genetically.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, which is a result of the defensive mechanism attacking healthy cells in the body. In psoriasis, the white blood cells, also known as T cells, attack skin cells.
In a normal body, white blood cells are utilized to attack and demolish bacteria and combat infections. The fast skin cell development results in the production of new skin cells too quickly, which are pushed to the skin’s surface where they accumulate. This causes plaque that is usually linked with psoriasis.
Symptoms of psoriasis vary from one person to another and on the type of psoriasis.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of plaque psoriasis:
- Inflamed, red, raised patches of skin
- Plaque on the red patches or whitish-silver scales
- Soreness around the patches
- Dry skin that may break and bleed
- Burning sensation and itching around the patches
- Thick, pitted nails
- Swollen and painful joints
It is also important to know that not all individuals experience the same symptoms. Also, the intensity of pain in the joints, swelling, and flaky skin varies from person to person.
Most individuals with psoriasis experience “cycles” of symptoms. The condition may trigger harsh symptoms for some days or weeks, and again the signs may clear up and be nearly invisible. At time psoriasis symptoms vanish entirely.
When a person has no active signs of psoriasis, they may be in “remission.” However, it doesn’t mean psoriasis has gone completely, it only means that they are symptom-free.
Any individual can develop psoriasis, and there are certain factors, which can increase your likelihood of developing psoriasis:
- Bacterial and Viral Infections – Individuals with conditions like HIV are at high risk of developing psoriasis as compared to those with a normal immune system. Young adults and children with frequent infections, especially strep throat, also may be at high risk.
- Stress – Stress can affect your immune system and too much stress can elevate your risk of developing psoriasis.
- Family History – It is one of the most important risk factors. If any of your close family members have psoriasis, then there is a chance that you may develop the disease. If both the parents have psoriasis, then it increases your risk even further.
- Obesity – Having excess body weight can also be an important risk factor. Lesions (plaques) linked with all forms of psoriasis usually grow in skin folds and creases.
- Smoking – Smoking is dangerous as it not only increases the risk of developing psoriasis but also can increase the severity of the condition.
There is no need for special tools or blood tests to diagnose psoriasis. A dermatologist or a medical expert in skin diseases generally inspect the affected skin and decides whether it is psoriasis or not.
Your medical practitioner may a skin biopsy and to confirm the condition. A biopsy reveals whether the affected skin is psoriatic or not with a detailed microscopic examination. Psoriatic skin appears inflamed and thicker when compared to skin with eczema.
Most medical practitioners can diagnose psoriasis by means of a simple physical examination. Psoriasis symptoms are usually evident and easy to distinguish from other skin conditions with similar symptoms.
While undergoing a physical examination, ensure that you show your medical practitioner all regions of concern. Furthermore, allow your doctor to know if there are members of the family with this condition.
If there is no clarity about the symptoms or if the doctor wants to confirm their suspicion, they may take a tiny sample of your skin for a biopsy. After collecting the skin sample, it will be sent to the lab, where it will be thoroughly inspected using a microscope. The test can identify the psoriasis type that you are affected with. It also dismisses other possible conditions or infections.
Most biopsies are conducted at your medical practitioner’s office on the same day of your consultation. To make the biopsy less painful, your doctor may inject a local numbing sedative, after which, they will send the extracted skin to a test center for further examination. After the results are out, your doctor may discuss the outcome and available treatment options that best suit you.
The primary goal of treatment is to reduce the inflammation, to slow down the skin cells, and eliminate plaques. Although isn’t any confirmed cure for psoriasis, it responds to many systemic and topical treatments. In about 85 to 90 percent of the cases, individuals with severe psoriatic conditions have reported relief during flare-ups after using medications. Treatment of psoriasis falls into three different categories.
1) Topical Treatments
Ointments and creams applied directly to the skin can be helpful for minimizing mild to moderate psoriasis. When the condition is more severe, creams and ointments are combined with oral medications.
Topical psoriasis treatments include:
- Topical Retinoid
- Topical Corticosteroids
- Vitamin D Analogues
- Salicylic Acid
2) Systemic Medications
Individuals with moderate to severe psoriasis, and those who have not responded well to other treatment of ache may require oral medications or injections. There are chances that some of these medicines have side effects. Hence, doctors recommend these medicines for a short span of time only when there is uncontrollable inflammation.
Here are some of the medications used for treating psoriasis:
- Light Therapy
The treatment for psoriasis utilizes natural or ultraviolet (UV) light. Sunlight kills the overactive white blood cells that attack the healthy skin cells triggering the fast cell growth. Both UVB and UVA light may be beneficial in minimizing the symptoms of mild to moderate psoriasis.
A combination of treatments will help most individuals with moderate to severe psoriasis. Some individuals may go for the same kind of treatment for the rest of their lives, while others may need to switch to a different treatment occasionally if their skin does not respond well to the treatment they are undergoing.
It is very important to follow the advice and guidelines instructed by your doctor when you have psoriasis. At the same time, you can also put your own efforts to help prevent and control the flare-ups.
Take Good Care Of Your Scalp And Skin
You must be very careful with your skin. At no time, pick at scales or patches, as it may worsen your psoriasis condition. Take precautions while cutting your nails. If you have psoriasis on your scalp, massage your topical treatments like tar shampoos into your scalp. Bathing with soothing products like tar solutions and Epsom salts may bring relief too.
Psoriasis symptoms get worse when the skin is not moisturized well. Therefore, it is best to keep your skin moist with moisturizing lotions and creams. Make use of thick and oily creams like petroleum jelly or cocoa buttercreams for better results. To help eliminate scales, apply lotion or cream on top of affected skin region and then cover the area with waterproof wraps. Keep it for a few hours and then remove.
Stay Away From Cold, Dry Weather
Climate can have a huge impact on people with psoriasis. For most individuals, dry, cold weather worsens psoriasis symptoms. However, warm weather normally makes the condition better, but not if the heat increases.
Use a Humidifier
It is very important to keep your skin moist. When the air inside your home is dry, turn on the humidifier so that your skin remains moist.
Avoid Scrapes, Cuts, Bumps, and Infections
It is essential for individuals with psoriasis to avoid any activity that can cause cuts and bumps. Damage to the skin can cause inflammation to the condition called as “Koebner’s phenomenon.” Furthermore, infections can also cause complications. Therefore, you need to be careful, especially when shaving. Stay away from tattoos, acupuncture, and do your best to avert insect bites and chafing.
If you are facing this type of Health-related problem,book an instant appointment with Best Dermatologist in India to provide effective treatment to all patients at Ask Apollo.