Psoriasis is a long-term inflammatory skin disease typically distinguished by red and flaky patches of skin covered with silvery scales. These patches usually appear on your elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back but can appear anywhere on your body.
It is an immune-mediated condition that induces inflammation in the cell of the body. Due to inflammation, the skin cells build up rapidly, causing red, scaly, and painful lesions. It may also affect the nails and joints, leading to a condition known as psoriatic arthritis.
The actual cause of psoriasis is still obscure.
Although the cause of psoriasis is unknown, it is apparent that psoriasis occurs because of the overactive immune system and genetic history. However, what causes the immune system to attack the skin cells is still unclear.
Typically, our normal skin cells grow and shed in a month. But in people with psoriasis, skin cells grow in only three or four days. Consequently, the skin cells build up, forming silvery scales, resulting in plaques with redness and itchiness.
Various environmental factors trigger psoriasis as well. For example, smoking, excessive alcohol, cold and dry weather may worsen the condition.
The common triggers for a psoriasis outbreak
The following factors may trigger the onset of psoriasis and make it challenging to treat:
- Bacterial or viral infections,
- Dry air or dry skin,
- Skin injury (cuts, scrapes, insect bites, or surgery),
- Smoking or excessive alcohol intake,
- Too little or too much sunlight,
- Immunosuppressed people,
- Stress and unstable emotional state,
- Medicines such as antimalaria drugs, beta-blockers, and lithium.
Psoriasis is curable.
Although a few cases of Psoriasis are complicated and not easy to treat, most of them are treatable. There is a range of effective treatment choices that can improve and manage the symptoms. As Psoriasis tends to flare up from time to time, treatment with various creams or ointments can help reduce plaques.
How common is Psoriasis?
According to JAMA Derm, 2021, psoriasis affects more than 3% of the US adult population- more than 7.5 million US adults, significantly impacting the quality of life.
The symptoms often start between ages 15 and 25 and are more common in white people. However, its severity varies hugely from person to person. For some, it’s just a minor irritation, but for others, it can majorly affect their quality of life.
Psoriasis is also related to other conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, psoriatic arthritis, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and anxiety.
Psoriasis signs and symptoms are variable.
There are periods in psoriasis when you have no or mild manifestation for a few weeks or months, then can reappear with severe symptoms. Sometimes, symptoms of psoriasis can disappear completely.
The common symptoms include:
- Irritated red and inflamed skin,
- Itchiness and soreness in the skin,
- Silvery scales or plaques,
- Dry and crack skin prone to bleeding,
- Thick, discolored, and pitted nails
- Swollen and stiff joints, etc.
The scaly plaques generally appear on the elbows, knees, and middle of the body. However, they can also develop on the scalp, palms, nails, mouth, soles of the feet, and genitalia.
Psoriasis and eczema
Although the symptoms of psoriasis and eczema may quite resemble, their cause is different. While psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that forms dry, itchy, and plaques, eczema is a chronic skin condition that causes red, itchy, and dry rashes on the skin. Eczema also causes more intense itching than psoriasis.
Is Psoriasis contagious?
It is a myth that is still widespread among people. Psoriasis does not spread between people with physical or sexual contact. It can, however, spread from one area of the body to another.
Adopting a suitable treatment method for psoriasis
The treatment of psoriasis should always be individual, focusing on patient preferences, potential benefits, and adverse effects of therapies.
Creams and ointments for psoriasis may be adequate to recover the rash in small areas of the skin. If the lesions affect larger areas along with joint pain, you may need other treatments. Moreover, supplements and a good diet can provide a boost in maintaining skin health.
As with other chronic diseases, psoriasis may affect areas of your life other than your physical health. It can also be frustrating and challenging at times. But with proper supervision and care, you can always handle and fight back psoriasis smoothly.