Psoriasis is a chronic, non-contagious, inflammatory skin condition that affects approximately 2-3% of the population. It is caused by an overactive immune system that triggers an increase in cell production. This leads to the formation of raised, red patches of skin covered with silvery scales. It is often itchy and can be quite painful. Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body but is most commonly seen on the elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, and face. The severity of psoriasis can range from a few small patches to widespread plaques covering large areas.
Psoriasis is a long-term condition that is managed through lifestyle changes, medications, and/or topical treatments. Treatment options vary depending on the severity and location of the psoriasis. These treatments can include topical creams, light therapy, and oral medications. Psoriasis is a chronic condition that can be managed with the right treatment plan. While there is no cure, many people with psoriasis can find relief with the right combination of lifestyle changes, medications, and topical treatments.
Psoriasis is brought on by an overly reactive immune system that leads to skin inflammation. Your immune system should eliminate foreign invaders like germs if you have psoriasis in order to keep you healthy and keep you from getting sick. Instead, your immune system could mistake foreign invaders for healthy cells. Your immune system therefore causes swelling or inflammation, which manifests as skin plaques on the surface of your skin. In most cases, the growth and replacement of new skin cells takes up to 30 days. The period of time it takes for new skin cells to form is shortened to three to four days by your overactive immune system. Scales and skin shedding are produced as a result of the rapid replacement of old cells by new ones on top of skin plaques
- Genetics: Psoriasis tends to run in families and is believed to have a genetic basis. Certain genetic mutations have been identified as possible causes of psoriasis, including mutations in the CARD14 gene.
- Immune System: Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder. This means that the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells. This leads to the rapid production of skin cells, resulting in the characteristic patches of psoriasis.
- Environmental Factors: Stress, smoking, and certain medications can trigger or worsen psoriasis. In addition, infections such as strep throat can cause psoriasis to flare.
- Diet: Some people report that certain foods can trigger psoriasis flares. Common triggers include gluten, dairy, nightshade vegetables, and processed foods.
- Hormones: Hormonal changes can also play a role in psoriasis. Women may experience flares during pregnancy or after giving birth.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by red, scaly patches of skin, known as plaques, which may be itchy and uncomfortable. Common symptoms of psoriasis include:
- Red, scaly patches on the skin, known as plaques
- Itching, burning, or soreness around the affected area
- Thick, pitted nails
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Swollen and stiff joints
- Thick patches of skin
- Patches of skin that are lighter or darker than the surrounding skin
- Small scaling spots
- Nail changes, such as pitting or separation of the nail from the nail bed
- Thickened skin around the ankles, elbows, and knees
- Burning sensation on the skin
- Skin lesions that may be sore or painful
Plaque psoriasis, the most prevalent type of psoriasis, results in scale-covered, dry, elevated skin patches (plaques). They could be few or numerous. They typically show up on the scalp, lower back, elbows, and knees. Depending on the skin tone, the patches have different colors. On dark or Black skin, the afflicted skin may heal with transient color changes (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation).
Nailing Psoriasis Pitting
Irregular nail growth, and discoloration can all be brought on by psoriasis and affect both fingernails and toenails. The nail bed may become loose and separate from psoriatic nails (onycholysis). The nail may break if the illness is severe.
Psoriasis with Guttae
Young people and children are most commonly affected with guttate psoriasis. Usually, a bacterial infection, like strep throat, is what sets it off.
Exactly how is psoriasis managed?
There are numerous ways to cure psoriasis symptoms.
- Topical medications (such as corticosteroids, calcipotriene, tazarotene, and coal tar)
- Phototherapy (such as UVB, PUVA, and laser)
- Oral medications (such as methotrexate, cyclosporine, and retinoids)
- Biologic drugs (such as etanercept, adalimumab, and infliximab)
- Alternative therapies (such as aloe vera, tea tree oil, and Dead Sea salt baths)
- Diet and lifestyle changes (such as reducing stress and avoiding certain foods)
steroids creams. Small patches of your skin where the rash is present may only require creams or ointments to heal. You’ll want more treatments if your rash covers a greater area or if you additionally experience joint pain. The presence of joint pain could indicate arthritis.
How to Prevent Psoriasis
- Avoid triggers: Certain triggers are known to aggravate psoriasis, including stress, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and certain medications. Try to avoid these triggers if possible.
- Eat a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help reduce inflammation and improve overall health.
- Use moisturizers: Keeping your skin moisturized can help reduce symptoms of psoriasis. Look for moisturizers containing oatmeal, aloe, or glycerin.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise can help reduce stress and improve overall health. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
- Try topical treatments: Topical medications, such as corticosteroids, can help reduce inflammation and itching.
- Use phototherapy: Phototherapy, or light therapy, involves exposing skin to UV light to help reduce inflammation and redness.
- Consider oral medications: Some oral medications, such as methotrexate and cyclosporine, can help reduce symptoms of psoriasis.
- Talk to your doctor: Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and treatment options.
Myths about Psoriasis
Myth: Psoriasis is contagious.
Fact: Psoriasis is not contagious. You cannot catch it from another person or pass it to someone else.
Myth: Psoriasis is caused by poor hygiene.
Fact: Psoriasis is not caused by poor hygiene, however, certain irritants such as harsh soaps or detergents can trigger flare-ups.
Myth: Psoriasis is only a skin condition.
Fact: While psoriasis most often affects the skin, it can also affect the joints, causing psoriatic arthritis. Psoriasis can also cause emotional distress.
David A. Wetter, M.D.