Psoriasis is a complex skin disorder that manifests itself in different ways. It can be tricky to detect psoriasis in one go, since the symptoms can get misdiagnosed as other skin diseases, such as eczema, dermatitis, ringworm, or seasonal rashes. Psoriasis isn’t just about looks or patches; it’s a chronic autoimmune disorder, causing the rapid buildup of skin cells, with red, scaly, and dry spots that can develop anywhere in the body.
From annoying scars to potential psoriatic arthritis, it’s important to know that the impact of psoriasis is more than skin-deep. Here’s what you need to know:
What causes Psoriasis?
Skin experts aren’t exactly sure about the reason behind someone’s immune system to malfunction this way. However, it’s a multi-factorial condition, where genetics and environmental factors play major roles. It is however clear that psoriasis is not contagious and treatment can help manage the condition. Usually, psoriasis is considered to be a result of some triggers that vary from person to person.
Common triggers can include:
- Excessive Stress
- Illnesses (mainly respiratory infections)
- Skin Injuries (sunburn, cuts, or abrasions)
- Extreme cold temperature
- Food allergies
- Uncontrolled alcohol intake
Understand your set of triggers and track them over time. Knowing your symptoms can help you anticipate and control your flares with an effective treatment solution.
Types of Psoriasis
With scaly plaques, red patches, and peeling surfaces, psoriasis is categorized into several types that can help specialists determine appropriate investigations and treatment pathways.
- Plaque psoriasis: Induced by infection, stress, drugs, or drug withdrawal, plaque psoriasis is the most common form, which is defined by dry, raised red skin patches. Sometimes, an individual may feel itchy on the affected areas, including the scalp, elbows, lower back, and knees.
- Guttate psoriasis: Usually young children are prone to guttate psoriasis where small, dot like lesions show up on the stomach, arm, or legs. Infections such as streptococcal bronchitis can cause widespread small plaques, which can be resolved within months.
- Inverse psoriasis: This type of psoriasis is predominantly found in the folds of the skin, like the underarms, navel, groin, and buttocks, causing smooth patches of red skin.
- Pustular psoriasis: An extremely rare type of psoriasis that can be identified by whitish-yellow pus-filled blisters on the hands or bottoms of feet.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: Another least common and severe form of psoriasis can cover the entire body with painful rashes, itching, pain, and flaking. It can be life-threatening if neglected for a long time.
- Nail psoriasis: Although several people identify it as calcium deficiency, it’s not casued by shortage of clacium. Any abnormality in the structure of a nail shouldn’t be taken lightly as diseases like psoriasis can actually grow under the fingernails. If not diagnosed, it can loosen the nail and make it fall off completely.
- Psoriatic arthritis: A form of arthritis that can extend to any point causing distinctive symptoms of the disease. Most females are diagnosed with symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, causing swelling and pain in the joints
What are the treatments available for Psoriasis?
There is no cure for psoriasis, but many treatment methods can manage the condition. Based on the type of psoriasis and its severity, a dermatologist can take the right call for action.
- Topical therapies: In cases of mild infection and irritation, some medicated creams and lotions help in soothing itchy skin. This treatment works well for children and the elderly. Corticosteroids, retinoids, and pimecrolimus cream are often combined with steroids to reduce the symptoms of certain types of psoriasis.
- Ultraviolet phototherapy: In this method, a special light is passed to suppress immune activity, and irritation in severe cases of psoriasis. This treatment should be performed by expert dermatologists who are specialized in laser therapies.
- Oral and biologic therapies: People with severe psoriasis are prescribed certain medications, such as acitretin, which works against the effects of the disorder but does not reduce immune activity. Other biological therapies are taken orally or are injected into the skin.
Modern medicine has come far from the times when diagnosis and treatment of psoriasis seemed nearly impossible. This World Psoriasis Day, it is important to let people know that with significant development in medical science, several treatment options are available, depending on the extent of the condition.