Psoriasis: An Uncommon Skin Condition
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes scaling on the skin’s surface. This can appear anywhere, but most of the time they appear on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back. Psoriasis is not contagious, it cannot be passed from one person to the next.
It can be painful, interfere with sleep, and make it hard to concentrate. The condition usually flares up for a few weeks or months, then subsides. Infections, cuts or burns, and certain medications are common triggers in people with a genetic predisposition to psoriasis. As we will understand later on in this blog, there are different types of psoriasis and different types of psoriasis treatments available that may be able to help people with this condition live a better quality of life. Doctors and researchers are trying to find answers in regard to psoriasis, what causes them, and what are potential psoriasis treatment options available that may help improve lives.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic disease that causes a rapid buildup of skin cells. This cell buildup causes scaling on the skin’s surface. Inflammation and redness are fairly common around the scales. The scales are typically whitish-silver and appear in thick, red patches. On darker skin tones, they can, however, appear purplish, dark brown, and scaled. The patches may crack and bleed.
Types of Psoriasis based on Locations
Psoriasis plaques and scales can appear in multiple locations on the body at the same time. They can appear on the eyelids, ears, lips, skin folds, hands, feet, and nails, among other places.
There are five varieties and it is possible to have multiple types of psoriasis at the same time, as well as multiple types throughout a lifetime. Based on the type of psoriasis one has, there are different types of psoriasis treatments available.
Psoriasis of the genital area is very common. It affects up to two-thirds of psoriasis patients at some point in their lives. Genital psoriasis can affect the skin in the genital region, as well as the inner and upper thighs.
Scalp psoriasis can affect the skin in and around the ears, the back of the neck, the hairline, and the forehead.
Any part of the face can be affected by facial psoriasis, including the brows, the skin between the nose and the upper lip, and the top of the forehead.
Nails, Hands, and Feet Psoriasis:
Hands, feet, and nails can all be affected by psoriasis. Palmoplantar psoriasis (PPP) is a type of psoriasis that affects the palms of the hands and/or the soles of the feet.
Skin folds such as those under the arms and breasts can also be affected by psoriasis. Rubbing and sweating irritate these areas frequently.
Types of Psoriasis based on Appearance
This is among the most common types of psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis affects approximately 80% to 90% of people with psoriasis.
This manifests itself in your skin folds. It results in thin plaques with no scales.
Guttate psoriasis can develop after a streptococcal infection causes a sore throat. It appears as small, red, drop-shaped scaly spots on the skin and most commonly affects children and young adults.
This is distinguished by small, pus-filled bumps on top of plaques.
This is a severe form of psoriasis that affects a large area of your skin (more than 90%). It causes extensive skin discoloration and shedding.
This type typically manifests as bumps and plaques with a greasy, yellow scale on your face and scalp. This condition is a combination of psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
Psoriasis symptoms include:
- A patchy rash that can range in appearance from dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions covering much of the body.
- Rashes that vary in color, typically shades of purple with greyscale on brown or black skin and pink or red with a silver scale on white skin.
- Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children).
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed.
- Itching, burning, or soreness.
- Cyclic rashes that appear for a few weeks or months and then go away.
Many people who are predisposed to psoriasis may be symptom-free for years until the disease is triggered by an environmental factor. Common psoriasis triggers include:
- Infections such as throat and skin infections
- Weather, particularly cold, dry conditions
- Skin injuries such as cuts and scrapes, bug bites, and severe sunburn
- Secondhand smoke and smoking
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Certain medications, such as lithium, blood pressure medications, and antimalarial medications
- The abrupt discontinuation of oral or injected corticosteroids
The following factors can increase the likelihood of developing the disease:
The disease runs in families. Having one parent who has psoriasis raises your chances of developing the disease. Having two parents who have psoriasis increases your risk even more.
Tobacco use not only increases the risk of psoriasis, but it may also worsen the condition.
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Types of Psoriasis Treatments
There is no cure for psoriasis. The different types of psoriasis treatments are meant to:
- Reduce swelling and scales
- Reduce the rate of skin cell growth
- Take off plaques
Three types of psoriasis treatments exist:
Applying creams and ointments directly to the skin can be beneficial for psoriasis that is mild to moderate. Topical types of psoriasis treatments include:
- Topical corticosteroids
- Topical retinoids
- Vitamin D analogs
- Salicylic acid
Oral or injectable medications may be required for those with moderate to severe psoriasis or those who have not responded well to other types of psoriasis treatments. Since many of these medications have serious side effects, doctors typically only prescribe them for brief periods. These medicines include:
- Oral retinoids
- Cyclosporine (Sandimmune)
UV or natural light is used in this psoriasis treatment. The excessively active white blood cells that are attacking healthy skin cells and accelerating cell growth are killed by sunlight. To lessen the signs and symptoms of mild to moderate psoriasis, both UVA and UVB light may be helpful.
A combination of therapies will benefit the vast majority of patients with mild to moderate psoriasis. Some people might receive the same care for the entirety of their lives. Others might need to occasionally switch to different types of psoriasis treatments if their skin stops responding to the current therapy.
Psoriasis is a long-term autoimmune skin disease that speeds up the growth cycle of skin cells. This makes the skin build up into bumpy red patches covered with white scales. They can appear anywhere on one’s body.
There is no way to completely prevent psoriasis. You can reduce your risk by adhering to your healthcare provider’s treatment plan, leading a healthy lifestyle, caring for your skin, and avoiding triggers that can cause an outbreak of symptoms. There are multiple clinical research organizations in the United States that are testing out potential treatment options for psoriasis and conducting research that may help doctors better understand this condition.