What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common chronic disease that has no treatment. It causes red, itchy, scaly patches of skin that most often appear on the knees, elbows, trunk and scalp.
This disease has varying cycles, flaring up for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a while or entering a remission period. Treatments are also available to help manage the symptoms. You can combine healthy lifestyle habits and coping strategies to help you manage psoriasis.
What are the symptoms of psoriasis?
Symptoms and signs vary from person to person. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Red patches of skin covered with thick scales.
- Small, scaly patches (more common in children).
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed or itch.
- Itching, burning, or soreness.
- Thick fingernails
- Joint swelling or stiffness
Psoriasis patches vary in severity, as they may take the form of a few scaly patches that resemble dandruff, and they may take the form of a large rash covering large areas. The most common areas affected are the lower back, elbows, knees, legs, soles of the feet, scalp, face and hands.
What are the types of psoriasis?
- Plaque psoriasis. This is the most common form of psoriasis. It causes dry, raised, and red skin patches (lesions) covered with silvery scales. The plaques may itch or be painful to the touch, and they may be few or many. They usually appear on the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp.
- Nail psoriasis. Psoriasis may affect the fingernails and toenails, causing small bumps to appear, abnormal nail growth and discoloration. Nails with symptoms of psoriasis may become loose and separate from the base of the nail (onycholysis). Severe cases may cause the nail to break off.
- Guttate psoriasis. This type primarily affects adolescents and children. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection such as strep throat. It is characterized by small, drooping, crusty lesions on the trunk, arms, or legs.
- Inverse psoriasis. This type mainly affects the skin folds in the buttocks, groin, and breast. Fold psoriasis causes smooth patches of red skin that worsen with rubbing and sweating. Fungal infections may trigger this type of psoriasis.
- Pustular psoriasis. This rare form of psoriasis causes visible pus-filled lesions in the form of diffuse patches (generalized pustular psoriasis) or smaller areas on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis. This type can cover your entire body with a red, scaly rash that can itch or burn severely.
What is the cause of psoriasis?
Researchers believe that psoriasis is an immune system problem that causes the skin to regenerate at a faster rate than normal. In the most common type of psoriasis, known as plaque psoriasis, this rapid exchange of cells results in red scales and patches. However, it is not entirely clear what causes the immune system to malfunction. genetic and environmental factors are thought to be playing a role. This condition is not contagious.
Psoriasis can be triggered due to some environmental factors, such as the following:
- Infections, such as strep throat or skin infections
- Weather conditions, especially cold and dry climates
- Skin injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, insect bites, or severe sunburn
- Smoking and secondhand smoke
- Excessive alcohol use
- Taking certain medications, including high blood pressure and anti-malarial drugs
How is psoriasis diagnosed?
The doctor will ask about your health and will examine your skin, scalp, and nails. The doctor may also take a small skin sample (biopsy) for examination under a microscope. This helps identify the type of psoriasis and rule out any other disorders.
How is psoriasis treated?
Treatments aim to stop skin cells from growing quickly and remove scales. Options include creams and ointments (topical treatment), phototherapy, and oral or injected medications.
- Vitamin D analogues
- Calcineurin inhibitors
- Salicylic acid
- UVB broadband
- UVB narrowband
- Excimer laser
Oral or injected medications