What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a health condition that occurs when skin cells build up rapidly, thus making the skin surface scaly.
One of the characteristics of psoriasis is redness of the skin and severe inflammation. Commonly, psoriasis gives the skin a whitish or silver scaly covering. This covering is usually thick and laced with red patches, which may crack and cause bleeding to happen.
In other words, psoriasis is a skin condition whereby the body produces excess skin tissues. The excess skin cell tissues are usually produced within the skin, but with time, they grow out and cover the original skin. In some cases, these excess cells fall off the skin. Psoriasis is usually a result of the overproduction of skin cells.
Scales from the excess cells can appear on any part of the body, including the;
- Joint areas, like the elbow and knee
In very few cases, psoriasis causes scales in the nails, genital areas, and mouth. According to a study, over 10 million people have psoriasis in the world. Psoriasis is usually associated with other underlying health conditions like;
Researchers have been able to group psoriasis into 5 categories. The following are the different types of psoriasis;
Plaque psoriasis is one of the most traditional psoriasis of the five types. In fact, studies explain how 80% of people with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis, and the remaining 20% share the four other types of psoriasis.
This type of psoriasis causes red patches that appear on the skin, with a sliver or whitish plaques or scales. The elbows, scalp, and knees are the plaque most commonly affected areas of the body.
This is common among children. One of its major symptoms is pinkish spots on the skin. It appears mostly on the arms, torso, and legs. The skin here is not thick, unlike plaque psoriasis. Also, the skin is not raised. It only comes with the obvious pink dots on certain areas of the body.
Just as guttate psoriasis is common among children, pustular psoriasis is also common among adults. It causes large red patches on the skin, with blisters filled with pus that make the skin sensitive and inflamed. It appears more on the hands and legs than other parts of the body.
This type of psoriasis causes inflammation to the skin, like others. Here, the skin becomes shiny, red, and bright, but with extreme pain and high sensitivity. Inverse psoriasis can be found in the genital areas, on the breasts, in the armpits skin folds, among others.
This kind of psoriasis is not as common as the other types. It is a very rare condition and highly severe. Oftentimes, it covers a large area of the skin at once, such that the skin begins to look like it was sunburned. The scales come off in flat and wide sheets. Erythrodermic psoriasis usually comes with fever.
According to professional medical practitioners, erythrodermic can be life-threatening. Thus, it is fitting to visit a doctor when you see its symptoms and not treat it by yourself.
The signs of psoriasis vary from person to person, and also, it depends on the type of psoriasis. The major symptom of psoriasis is scaly or flaky skin of the elbow, hands, scalp, or even the whole body.
Some of the most common features of all kinds of psoriasis include;
- Red patches on the skin
- Silver or whitish coverings on the inflamed skin
- Red, inflamed, and raised lump of skin
- Swollen and painful joints
- An intense burning sensation on the skin, especially around the patched area
- Thick nails
- Sore and sensitive skin
- Dry skin that can crack and bleed
These symptoms may not be experienced by everybody. Some people may experience it in a different way, probably because they have a mild kind of psoriasis.
Psoriasis can also come in a “cycle” form, such that, for one week, one may experience the symptoms with discomfort, and after one week, the symptoms begin to disappear. The “cycle” process now comes in when psoriasis begins to develop on the skin of such an individual again after two weeks of disappearance. The reoccurrence of psoriasis may be a result of psoriasis triggers. However, on many occasions, symptoms of psoriasis clear off completely.
Researchers have been able to pinpoint the two possible causes of psoriasis after many decades of research. These two causes include;
- Immune system
One of the very first things to note about psoriasis is the fact that it is an autoimmune condition. When the body starts to beat itself up and begins to mistake healthy cells for foreign cells, autoimmune illnesses or conditions set in. In other words, autoimmune conditions occur when the white blood cells combat the skin cells after mistaking them to be enemies of the body.
Normally, the white blood cell is programmed or designed to attack, combat and destroy foreign bacteria of infections that can harm the body. When it gets confused and fights against the skin cells instead of bacterial and infectious cells, there will be an excess production of skin cells, thereby causing the rapid growth of excess new skin, which is then pushed out on the surface of the skin after building up.
There are genes that, when inherited, can expose you to the risks of developing psoriasis. Your risk of having it gets higher when you have a direct family member with the condition. Compared to psoriasis that is caused by the mistake of the immune system, the cases of the genetics-caused ones are quite small.
The triggers of psoriasis differ and depend largely on the individual and the type of psoriasis. Although, as much as they vary, they can also change with time.
Some of the most common triggers of psoriasis include;
Stress can trigger the overproduction of skin cells in the body. This is why it is important to manage your stress levels as much as you can.
Heavy consumption of alcohol can lead to psoriasis. If you are an alcohol lover, your chances of developing psoriasis are high. Reducing or quitting your alcohol intake is not just beneficial for your skin but is also essential for your general wellbeing.
Scalds to the skin, cuts, accidents, or a scrape to the skin can trigger psoriasis. While sunburn, vaccines, and shots can also trigger psoriasis.
Some medications have also been discovered to be psoriasis triggers. Some of these drugs include;
- Certain antimalarial drugs
- Medications for high blood pressure
When one’s immune system is fighting an illness, it tends to be overactive, such that it begins to battle almost everything it sees, both the beneficial cells and the infectious ones. When this happens, psoriasis can be triggered.
Treatments of psoriasis are aimed at reducing inflammation, reducing scales, redness, itching, and pain. The complete cure for psoriasis still remains unknown.
The following treatments for psoriasis can be categorized into three groups;
Mild and moderate psoriasis can be remedied with skin-friendly ointments and creams. Some of the topical treatments of psoriasis include;
- Topical retinoids
- Salicylic acid
- Tropical corticosteroids
- Vitamin D analogs
This is an oral or injected medication. It is recommended for people whose psoriasis is not responding to treatment. It is also prescribed for people who have severe kind of psoriasis. Some systemic medications for psoriasis include;
- Sandimmune (cyclosporine)
This involves the use of ultraviolet rays to treat psoriasis. Sunlight has been discovered to be effective in the killing of overactive skin cell production. These rays also help improve symptoms.
Diet Recommendation for Psoriasis victims
There is no special food that can cure psoriasis. However, eating well can help reduce and beat down ragging symptoms. In addition to this, certain lifestyle changes can also help reduce psoriasis episodes and flareups.
Some of the lifestyle changes include;
- Eating a balanced and heart-friendly diet
- Engaging in physical exercises and losing some weight
- Identify your triggers and avoid them as much as you can
- Quit alcohol, or drink less if you must
- Always take vitamin-rich foods
In conclusion, psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes excess skin tissues to build upon the skin, with flaky and scaly surfaces.