Psoriasis

1 What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a common condition of the skin that leads to the swift build-up of cells on the surface of the skin altering the skin cells life cycle.

Currently, there is no cure for Psoriasis as it is considered a chronic or long-lasting, persistent skin disease in which symptoms may sometimes appear worse but may also no appear or look better as if you do not have any disorders.

Psoriatic skin is characterized by abnormal patches that appear as red, dry, thick, silvery scales and itchy, which oftentimes is painful which can either be found in a localized portion of the body or complete body coverage.

Psoriasis

As there is still no cure for Psoriasis, the goal of treatment is to provide significant relief from the discomforts of the symptoms felt by preventing rapid growth of skin cells.

Self-care measures that can be employed to manage the symptoms of Psoriasis include the use of topical non-prescription cortisone cream. Light sun exposure can also offer relief and improvement in the presence of abnormal skin patches.

2 Symptoms

Most types of psoriasis has a series of periodic appearance of symptoms. Symptoms that they may show for a few weeks or months, then would partial or completely disappear, and then would re-occur again over time.

Since psoriasis is a skin disorder, majority of the signs and symptoms will directly appear on the skin which is common characterized by red patches of skin covered with silvery scales, small scaling spots (usually seen in children), dry, cracked skin that may bleed, itching, burning or soreness, thickened, pitted or ridged nails, and swollen and stiff joints.

Also, the skin patches may be localized or spread out and some portions of the body may even have major eruptions that cover large areas.

There are different types of psoriasis that may present various signs and symptoms. The most common form of psoriasis is Plaque psoriasis, characterized by dry, raised, red skin lesions (plaques) covered with silvery scales, that may itch or be painful and can be found anywhere in your body including the genitals and the soft tissue inside your mouth.

Second type of psoriasis is Nail Psoriasis, this type specifically affects the fingernails and toenails, resulting to pitting, abnormal nail growth and discoloration and nails may become loose and separate from the nail bed (onycholysis). Severe cases may cause the nail to crumble or fall off.

The third type of psoriasis is called Scalp psoriasis which typically appear on the scalp as red, itchy areas with silvery-white scales. The red or scaly areas often spread beyond the hairline and flakes of dead skin in your hair or on your shoulders, especially after scratching your scalp are noticeable.

The fourth type of psoriasis is Guttate psoriasis, this principally is apparent to young adults and children as it is caused by a bacterial infection such as strep throat. It's characterized by small, water-drop-shaped sores on your trunk, arms, legs and scalp. The sores are enclosed by a fine scale and are fairly thin compared to other plaques. Single or localized outbreak may happen, or may have repeated episodes.

The fifth type of Psoriasis is Inverse psoriasis that is mostly seen in the armpits, in the groin, under the breasts and around the genitals which is caused by a fungal infection. This type is characterized by smooth patches of red, inflamed skin which get worse by friction and sweating.

The sixth type of psoriasis is Pustular psoriasis which is an unusual form of psoriasis that appear as widespread patches (generalized pustular psoriasis) or in smaller areas on your hands, feet or fingertips. It commonly develops quickly, with pus-filled blisters showing just hours after your skin becomes red and tender, the blisters may not be permanent and may further lead to fever, chills, severe itching and diarrhea.

The seventh type of psoriasis is Erythrodermic psoriasis which is the most uncommon form, it is characterized by red, peeling rash that can itch or burn intensely found all over the body.

Psoriatic arthritis presents with inflamed, scaly skin, resulting to pitted, discolored nails and the swollen, painful joints that are typical of arthritis and symptoms range from minor to serious presentation which can lead to stiffness and progressive joint damage that in the most severe cases may result to permanent deformity.

Immediately seek medical attention when you observe changes in your skin or patches regardless of how small or simple it may appear. Also, closely work with your doctor if you are experiencing since that the condition is worsening such as presence of discomfort and pain, difficulty to perform routine tasks and concerns about the appearance of your skin.

Additional symptoms include joint problems, such as pain, swelling or inability to perform daily tasks. A combination of treatment may be needed to manage psoriasis as it may be a life-ling condition.

3 Causes

Psoriasis is associated with an impairment in the auto-immune system, specifically the while blood cell called T lymphocyte, but the exact cause is still unknown.

The normal function of T cells throughout the body is to distinguish and combat foreign substances, such as viruses or bacteria however with psoriasis, T cells are unable to properly recognize healthy skin cells which causes them to act it as if to heal a wound or to fight an infection.

Overcharged T cells will stimulate additional immune responses such as widening of blood vessels in the skin around the plaques which will also increase travelling white blood cells to the already affected area. These changes lead to an elevation in the production of both healthy skin cells and more T cells and other white blood cells.

This results to an ongoing cycle in which new skin cells transfer to the outermost layer of skin too rapidly, within days instead of weeks. Dead skin and white blood cells can’t keep up with the over excitation which builds up in thick, scaly patches on the skin's surface.

This abnormal cycle will only stop with appropriate treatment. As to the exact reason why T cells to malfunction in people with psoriasis is still unknown. Researchers have discovered genes that are connected to the development of psoriasis, but environmental factors also contributes.

Worsening of psoriasis has a triggering factor that the person may eventual identify by observing the patterns of behavior. Possible factors that may trigger psoriasis include: infections, such as strep throat or skin infections, injury to the skin, such as a cut or scrape, bug bite, or a severe sunburn, stress, cold weather, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption and certain medications including lithium, which is prescribed for bipolar disorder, high blood pressure medications such as beta blockers, antimalarial drugs, and iodides.

4 Making a Diagnosis

As signs of psoriasis may be seen, you will be referred to a dermatologist to get more expertise on the diagnosis and treatment. To be able to maximize the time spent with the doctor and not waste any time, here are some things to know about on how you can best prepare for your appointment.

Prepare a list of all the symptoms that you are experiencing including all those that you feel may not be related to the condition. Also, have a list of all medications that you have taken or is taking including supplements, herbs, over-the-counter drugs and vitamins including the dosage.

For better management and coping with the condition, it is beneficial to understand it hence ask your doctor questions that you might find confusing or is concerned about regarding psoriasis, and such questions may be as follows:

  • What is caused this condition?
  • Will there be tests that I need?
  • What would be the best treatment option for me?
  • What effects would the treatment bring?
  • Will the treatment fully cure me and prevent recurrent of the condition?
  • How would I know that the treatment is working?
  • Are there available alternatives?
  • How will I be able to manage this skin condition with the other conditions that I already have?
  • What self-care measures and skin products would you recommend?

As part of the doctor’s assessment, you will be asked questions such as:

  • When was the first time you noticed the symptoms?
  • What is the frequency of the appearance of symptoms?
  • Do the symptoms disappear or is present all the time?
  • Is there anything that can be done to improve or worsen the symptoms?

The common diagnosis for psoriasis is a complete medical history and physical examination, specifically the examination of the skin, scalp and nails.

It is quite often that a doctor would recommend a skin biopsy, which is taking a small portion of the skin and sent to lab for analysis. The skin biopsy would detect what type of psoriasis you have by checking the skin sample under a microscope.

Seborrheic dermatitis is another skin condition that may look like psoriasis but the characteristics of the dermatitis are: greasy, scaly, itchy, red skin which is commonly found on the face, upper chest and back which are oily surfaces.

Another possible skin condition is Lichen planus, which is caused by a fungal infection from ringworm that show as rows of itchy, flat-topped bumps (lesions) on the arms and legs and may normally be seen first as one large spot (herald patch) on your chest, abdomen or back, which then spreads to the other parts of the body.

The rash of pityriasis rosea normally spreads from the middle of the body, and its shape look like drooping pine tree branches.

5 Prevention

Follow some of these tips to prevent psoriasis flare-ups:

  • Take care of your skin and scalp by not picking at your scales.
  • Use moisturizing lotions to avoid dry skin.
  • Use a humidifier to keep your skin moist.
  • Avoid dry and cold weather.
  • Get some sun but not too much like for about 20 minutes to slow the growth of skin cells and use sunscreen.
  • Avoid scrapes bumps, infections and cuts.
  • Avoid medications that can cause flare-ups such as propranolol.
  • Avoid too much alcohol; avoid stress by trying relaxation techniques.
  • Maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.

6 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Alternative remedies available for psoriasis include:

  • Aloe vera,
  • Aloe vera extract cream may reduce redness,
  • Scaling,
  • Itching and,
  • Inflammation.

Although, you would need to apply the cream several times a day within a month to see results. Fish Oil. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may decrease inflammation associated with psoriasis.

Oregon grape, is a topical application that decrease inflammation and ease psoriasis symptoms. It is always best to consult your doctor first before trying any alternative remedies to ensure that it will not have any contraindications to your current treatment plan as well as your condition.

7 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with psoriasis.

A lot of self-care measure may offer relieve of symptoms for psoriasis. Take daily baths which can help remove scales and calm inflamed skin. Add bath oil, colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts to the water and soak but avoid hot water and harsh soaps, which can worsen symptoms, use lukewarm water and mild soaps that have added oils and fats.

Use moisturizer to prevent dryness, dry your skin after bathing then apply a heavy, ointment-based moisturizer while your skin is still moist. For very dry skin, oils may be more beneficial. Applying moisturizing cream several times in a day, during cold, dry weather.

Expose your skin to small amounts of sunlight, as it can significantly improve lesions, but too much sun exposure may triggering worsening of symptoms.

If you are planning to sunbath do not overexpose yourself, make sure to apply sunscreen generously every two hours. Keep track of your psoriatic episodes and notice possible triggers then compare each episode to find your specific triggers to avoid.

Avoid drinking alcohol as Alcohol consumption may decrease the effectiveness of some psoriasis treatments. Coping with psoriasis can be a challenge, especially if the disease covers large areas of your body or is in places readily seen by other people, such as your face or hands.

Here are some ways to help you cope and to feel more in control:

  • Educate yourself by studying about the condition
  • Look for reliable reading materials to better understand the condition as well as the treatment options.
  • Educate family and friends so they can recognize, acknowledge and support your efforts in dealing with the disease.
  • If your doctor recommends certain treatments and lifestyle changes, be sure to follow them.
  • Do not hesitate to ask your doctor if there is anything that is bothering you about your condition.
  • Consider joining a support group by researching on the available support service to see which one would best help you.
  • You may find comfort in sharing your experience and struggles and meeting people who face similar challenges.
  • Use cover-ups when you feel it necessary especially on days that you feel self-conscious, cover the psoriasis with clothing or use cosmetic cover-up products, such as body makeup or a concealer.

8 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with psoriasis.

Here are the factors that increase the person’s predisposition to develop psoriasis:

  • Family history. The most significant risk factor for psoriasis family a member/s to has the condition. Having one parent with psoriasis greatly puts you at risk of getting the disease, and having two parents with psoriasis increases your risk even further.
  • Viral and bacterial infections. People with HIV are more likely to develop psoriasis due to their weakened immune system.
  • Children and young adults with recurring infections, particularly strep throat, is also at a greater risk.
  • Stress can impact your immune system causing it to weaken hence put the person at increased risk of having psoriasis.
  • Obesity. Excess weight increases the risk of psoriasis.
  • Plaques associated with all types of psoriasis often develop in skin creases and folds.
  • Smoking tobacco not only puts you at greater risk of psoriasis but also may cause the progression of disease.

If you have psoriasis, you're at greater risk of developing certain diseases such as:

  • Psoriatic arthritis. This complication of psoriasis can lead to joint damage and a loss of function in some joints, which can be debilitating. Eye conditions, such as conjunctivitis, blepharitis and uveitis are more common in people with psoriasis.
  • Type 2 diabetes. The risk of type 2 diabetes is increased in people with psoriasis. The more severe the psoriasis, the greater the likelihood of type 2 diabetes. The likelihood of having high blood pressure are higher for people with psoriasis.
  • Cardiovascular disease. For people with psoriasis, the risk of heart attack is almost three times higher than for those without the disease. The risk of irregular heartbeats and stroke is also greater in those with psoriasis resulting for an underlying heart problem or maybe due to obesity. Some psoriasis treatments may cause abnormal cholesterol levels and increase the risk of hardened arteries.
  • Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, elevated insulin levels and abnormal cholesterol levels that increases your risk of heart disease.
  • Other autoimmune diseases. Celiac disease, sclerosis and the inflammatory bowel disease called Crohn's disease are more likely to strike people with psoriasis.
  • Parkinson's disease. People with psoriasis could normally develop a chronic neurological condition.
  • Kidney disease. Moderate to severe psoriasis has been linked to a higher risk of kidney disease.

Psoriasis can also affect your quality of life and disrupt your body image due to Low self-esteem, depression, social isolation, problems at work, which can lead to a lower income and socializing in school.

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