Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes thick, red, scaly patches on the skin that can itch, burn, or cause pain. It can affect any part of the body but is most commonly found on the scalp, elbows, knees, lower back, face and palms.
Psoriasis is often confused with other skin conditions such as eczema and is estimated to affect nearly 3 percent of the world's population and up to 7.5 million Americans.
Psoriasis can also be triggered by environmental factors such as stress, diet, allergies, smoking, and certain medications. Psoriasis is not contagious, but it can be inherited, and unfortunately there is no cure.
Different Types of Psoriasis
While Psoriasis affects everyone differently, there are several common types of Psoriasis. These include:
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis, affecting around 80-90% of people living with the condition. It typically affects areas of the skin that are prone to friction, such as elbows, knees and scalp. Plaque Psoriasis is characterized by inflamed patches of red skin covered in a silvery-white buildup of dead skin cells called scales.
Inverse Psoriasis, also known as Intertriginous Psoriasis, is an uncommon form of psoriasis that affects areas where there is friction or rubbing on the skin - in folds and creases such as beneath the breasts, thighs or buttocks. This type of Psoriasis appears smooth and shiny without scaling and may be red or pink in color.
Guttate Psoriasis is a less common form of Psoriasis, usually affecting children and young adults. It appears as small pinkish-red spots that are non-scaly and resemble drops of rain. Guttate Psoriasis can develop quickly over the course of a few days or weeks and often follows an infection such as strep throat.
Pustular Psoriasis is an uncommon form of Psoriasis characterized by white blisters filled with pus surrounded by red skin. These pustules generally appear on the palms, soles and other parts of the body accompanied by fever, chills and severe itching.
Erythrodermic Psoriasis is an uncommon but severe form of Psoriasis that affects large areas of the skin, including the torso and limbs. It appears as red patches with severe itching and burning sensations. The affected area may be covered with a fine scale or no scales at all.
Sebopsoriasis is a condition where Psoriasis and Seborrheic Dermatitis co-exist in one person, typically on the scalp, face and chest. The Psoriasis causes redness and scaling while the Seborrheic Dermatitis causes yellowish, greasy patches of skin.
Nail Psoriasis affects up to 50% of people living with Psoriasis. It causes changes to the nails such as yellow-brown patches, pitting and crumbling of the nail plate. Nail Psoriasis can also lead to thickening of the skin around the nail and joint pain. Treatment may include topical medications or light therapy.
Parts of Body Most Affected by Psoriasis
Psoriasis can affect any area of the body, but certain areas are more commonly affected than others. Psoriasis typically appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white build-up of dead skin cells. Common areas where Psoriasis affects include:
1. Scalp - Psoriasis of the scalp appears as red, itchy patches with silvery-white scales.
2. Elbows and Knees - Psoriasis of the elbows and knees appears as raised, red patches that may be covered with loose, silver-colored scales.
3. Hands and Feet - Psoriasis of the hands and feet appears as raised, red patches that can crack and bleed.
4. Lower Back - Psoriasis on the lower back may appear as red patches, often with a silver-white buildup of dead skin cells.
5. Face - Psoriasis on the face may appear as small red bumps or patches that may be itchy.
6. Genitals - Psoriasis in the genital area may appear as red patches or scales and can be painful.
No matter where Psoriasis appears, it is important to talk with your doctor about treatment options. Psoriasis is a chronic condition, but with proper management and treatment, it can be managed effectively.
Causes & Symptoms of Psoriasis
Causes of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that can be triggered by a variety of factors, including genetics, environmental changes, and hormonal imbalances. Psoriasis is caused by the overproduction of skin cells, resulting in an accumulation of thick, scaly plaques on the surface of the skin.
Psoriasis is thought to be caused by an overactive immune system that triggers the production of skin cells at a much faster rate than normal. This results in the formation of scaly patches, which can be itchy and painful.
If you are experiencing psoriasis, your immune system is designed to defend and protect against outside toxins like bacteria. However, in this instance it malfunctions and mistakes healthy cells as foreign invaders that must be removed; therefore producing inflammation or swelling on the surface of your skin known as plaques.
It's typical for new skin cells to develop and replace old skin cells within about 30 days. However, if you have an over-reactive immune system, this timeline changes to only three or four days. The speed of cell turnover then causes scales and excessive skin shedding on top of any existing skin plaques.
Psoriasis has been known to be passed down in families, as it is likely there may be a genetic factor at play. If your biological parents have psoriasis, you are more likely to develop the condition yourself due to being genetically predisposed.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is characterized by thick, dry, red patches on the skin. These patches are often covered in silvery scales and may be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- itchy skin
- Skin pain
- Dry, cracked skin
- Splits and sores
- swollen joints
- fever-like feeling
Psoriasis can affect any part of the body, but usually occurs on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back. Psoriasis can also affect the nails, causing them to become pitted or discolored. Psoriasis is a chronic condition that has no known cure, but treatments can help to manage the symptoms. Psoriasis can range from mild to severe and may come and go over time. Talk to a doctor if you think you may have Psoriasis.
Psoriasis outbreaks or flare-ups can be triggered by a variety of factors. These include
- cold temperatures
- dry skin
- certain medications
- certain lifestyle choices such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption.
Psoriasis outbreaks may also be linked to changes in the immune system, such as those caused by taking certain medications or treatments. Taking steps to reduce stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle can help to minimize the risk of Psoriasis outbreaks.
It is important to speak with a doctor if you think you have Psoriasis in order to develop a course of treatment that is most suitable for you.
Diagnosis & Testing For Psoriasis
The primary care physician or dermatologist can diagnose psoriasis. Diagnosis is based on the medical history, a physical examination, and a description of the symptoms and signs.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that can appear in different forms and locations on the body, making it more difficult to diagnose. Psoriasis cannot be diagnosed on the basis of one criterion or finding; it requires multiple findings over time in order to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.
If necessary, biopsies may be taken and laboratory tests conducted to rule out other skin diseases. Psoriasis is essentially a clinical diagnosis and no specific test is available for it.
Management & Treatment of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a common chronic skin condition that affects millions of people around the world. Fortunately, there are numerous treatment options available to help manage and reduce the symptoms of psoriasis. From topical treatments to phototherapy, Psoriasis sufferers have many options available to them when it comes to managing this condition. Here is a list of common Psoriasis treatments:
1. Topical Treatments - These are creams and ointments applied directly to the affected area. They can help reduce inflammation and itching, as well as slow down the production of skin cells.
2. Light Therapy - This type of therapy involves exposure to either natural sunlight or artificial ultraviolet light on the affected areas. It can help reduce inflammation and slow down the production of skin cells.
3. Systemic Treatments - These treatments, which involve oral medications or injections, are used to treat severe cases of Psoriasis that have not responded to other treatments. They work by targeting the immune system and are typically prescribed for those who have Psoriasis covering more than 10% of their body.
4. Biologic Treatments - These treatments use proteins derived from living organisms to suppress certain parts of the immune system that cause Psoriasis flare-ups. They can be taken orally or injected directly into the skin.
5. Psoriasis Diet - Eating a well-balanced diet can help reduce Psoriasis flare-ups and reduce inflammation. This includes eating foods high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber, as well as avoiding certain triggers such as dairy, gluten, and alcohol.
No matter what type of Psoriasis treatment you choose, it is important to work closely with your doctor to find the best solution for your individual needs. With proper care and management, Psoriasis sufferers can experience relief from their symptoms and improved quality of life.
6. Alternative Treatments - There are also many alternative treatments available for Psoriasis including acupuncture, meditation, and herbal supplements. Speak with your doctor to discuss the potential benefits of these treatments.
7. Psoriasis Support Groups - Psoriasis can be a difficult condition to manage, but Psoriasis support groups can provide valuable resources for Psoriasis sufferers. These groups offer access to expert advice as well as emotional support from others who are going through similar experiences.
With the right treatment plan and lifestyle adjustments, Psoriasis sufferers can achieve better control over their symptoms and lead fuller lives. If you think you may have Psoriasis, it is best to speak with your doctor about your options so that you can find the best solution for your individual needs.
Potential Complications of Psoriasis
In addition to the classic symptoms of psoriasis, such as scaling skin, itchiness and discoloration, people living with this skin condition may be more prone to other issues like joint swelling or arthritis. If you have been diagnosed with psoriasis then your risk for the following conditions could increase significantly:
- High cholesterol
- Heart attacks
Psoriasis can also lead to diabetes. People with psoriasis are more likely to have insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Psoriasis has also been linked to increased levels of cholesterol, which could lead to arterial blockage and a higher risk for heart attacks and strokes. Psoriasis has also been linked to obesity and can worsen skin symptoms due to the increased inflammation associated with excess weight.
Prevention of Psoriasis
Although there is no guaranteed way to protect against psoriasis, you can decrease your risk of an outbreak by staying up-to-date with treatment regimes suggested by your healthcare provider, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking care of your skin. Additionally, be sure to take preventative steps such as avoiding any potential triggers that may cause flare ups.
You can take these steps to prevent triggering a flare-up:
- Eating a well-balanced diet.
- Exercising regularly.
- Getting adequate sleep
- Not smoking.
In conclusion, if you think you may have Psoriasis, consult with your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. With the right treatment, Psoriasis can be managed effectively and you can enjoy a good quality of life.
The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding Psoriasis or any other medical condition.