Psoriasis is a skin condition where cell growth is sped up, resulting in an accumulation of red itchy scales or patches which build up upon the outer surface of the skin. While there is no known cure for psoriasis, treatment is aimed at restoring cell growth around the infected area. While Psoriasis affects everyone differently, there are common symptoms which give it away. The knees, elbows, scalp, face, hands, fingernails, feet, genitals, and skin folds are the most common areas stricken by Psoriasis, though depending on the type, it can appear almost anywhere on the body, including the inside of the mouth!
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Psoriasis can be limited to scattered spots, all the way to major encompassing formations. And while, in appearance, it follows no strict pattern, here are some of the most common symptoms of this ailment.
– Red patches on the skin, which peak as grey scales
– Dry, cracked skin prone to bleeding
– Itching, burning or soreness
– Ridged or pitted nails
– Swollen and stiff joints
– Small spots are commonly found on children
Psoriasis, more often than not, occurs cyclically with periods of flaring expression, and periods of quiet remission. It is possible that it lies dormant completely for weeks if not months before flaring up again for another few weeks or months.
What Causes Psoriasis
While modern medicine has not conclusively figured this out, our general understanding narrows its causes to the Immune system. The immune system normally fights off infections and pathogens which enter the body. Once Psoriasis is triggered, the White Blood cells of the immune system attack otherwise healthy skin cells, embedding themselves within the skin buildup. Upon unleashing its attack on your healthy cells, the white blood cells stimulate the hyper growth of the skin cells causing them to develop at an alarming rate, often achieving in days, what would take weeks. Because it is doesn’t take weeks, cells don’t die fast enough to make space for the new skin cells. Imagine 20 people on a boat designed for 4…That doesn’t lead to a very good situation. This is what leads to “spots” or “scales” forming on the surface of the skin. Similarly, the embedded white blood cells, causing redness and lesions. Then the blood vessels dilate beneath an affected area, causing redness and warmth.
While most people get Psoriasis between the ages of 15 and 35. Cases of children and even infants having psoriasis are well known. Psoriasis is not a communicable disease (apart from genetic predisposition) meaning one cannot contract psoriasis. As mentioned, it requires a trigger, and an impaired immune response to flare up. Over time this process slows down until it subsides to a more passive state.
Common triggers for Psoriasis are:
– Vitamin D deficiency
– Medications (such as lithium, antimalarial)
– Injury of the skin
– Cold/Dry weather.
What it Means to You
If Psoriasis exists on less than 3% of the body it is said to be mild. Mild Psoriasis is often treated by moisturizing prescription creams and specialized shampoos. If it ranges between 3- 10% of the body, it is said to be moderate whereas occurrence upon more than 10% of the body is considered severe. Moderate and Severe Psoriasis both use topical ointments and moisturizers though, more drastic and more complex treatments, such as phototherapy, biologic medication (Medication made by using microorganisms, live plant/animal cells) depending on the degree to which your Psoriasis is impacting your life.
Common Treatments for Psoriasis
Most cases of Psoriasis are dealt with using topical creams and ointments, which soothe and moisturize the affected area, including steroid-based ointments. Coal tar has also been used without any real understanding of how it works. But should only be used short term. Commonly they use a two-phase process where steroids are used to contain the spread, and then Vitamin D treatment is used to restore cell growth and heal the afflicted areas.
Many cases of Psoriasis can be tackled by over the counter medicines and medicated cosmetics. These products are effective in containing the spread and relieving the outbreak of Psoriasis. If symptoms persist, see a doctor.