What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a disease that occurs in people of all ages in races. However, the first time it mostly appears in young adults. When a person is affected by this condition, the skin cells start multiplying faster than normal. Eventually, these cells reach the surface and die. This produces extensive flaking. Layers of dead skin appear as a rash. Most of the time, these rashes occur on elbows, knees, and scalp. However, they can spread to the rest of the body, mostly to feet and palms. The reason for this over multiplying is the adverse reaction of the immune system. However, there is currently no information about what exactly triggers such immune system response.
Humanity have yet to learn how to treat the condition. Researchers found out that people affected by psoriasis are more likely to suffer from such problems as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and various inflammatory conditions.
About 3 percent of people in the world suffer from psoriasis, and the numbers seem to be rising. Studies have been done to show that in the past 30 years, the number of affected people substantially increased. Psoriasis commonly begins between 15 and 30 years. Then it can strike between 50 and 60 years.
The doctors believe that the chance to develop psoriasis depends on your genetic makeup. Researchers already found several genes that are common in people with psoriasis. The condition is hereditary. If one parent has it, a child has a 15% chance of developing psoriasis. If both parents suffer from the condition, then the chance skyrockets to 75 percent.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
The symptoms of psoriasis vary from one person to another. Mostly they include:
- Red skin patches with white and silver scales
- Scaling spots in various places (likely symptom for children)
- Cracked skin
- Thickened and discolored nailbed
- Joint problems (swelling and stiffness)
Psoriasis is not in its active phase all the time. The flare-ups can stay for a few days or a months and then subside. Sometimes people forget about psoriasis for years.
There are several types of psoriasis. The most common one is plaque psoriasis. It cause raised red patches with white or silver scales. The patches may itch and be sore. They may occur all over the body. Other types of psoriasis are:
- Nail – Thickening of nails and loss of color.
- Scalp – Similar to plaque but occurs on the scalp and beyond the hairline.
- Guttate – Bacterial psoriasis that looks like small sores and goes away on its own.
- Inverse – Patches of red skin appear in the skin folds, such as groin and armpits.
- Pustular – This rare type looks like blisters with pus on the hands and feet. It can be accompanied by fever.
- Erythrodermic – This rarest type of psoriasis covers the whole body with rashes.
- Psoriatic arthritis – Sore, stiff and swollen joints accompany the standard skin inflammations.
What Causes Psoriasis?
Noticing patches of itchy, dry, red patches on your skin? That would be the sign of a common skin disease called “psoriasis”. For some it’s just a nuisance while for others it’s a lifelong disease resulting in frequent break outs and affects every aspect of their daily life. Even though its affects people differently, the causes are universal. Here some of the main causes of this condition:
Immune system: Normally, white blood cells produce antibodies to foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. But with psoriasis, special white blood cells called T-cells become overactive and attack the skin, causing the skin cells to multiply so fast that they start to pile up on the surface of the skin. The normal process of skin cells consists of forming, maturing and falling off every 30 days. But psoriasis causes this process to occur every 3- 6 days; this means dead skin and white blood cells can’t slough off quickly enough and build up in thick, scaly patches on the skin’s surface. The T-cells also over produce chemicals that instead of healing will actually inflame and irritate the skin.
Genes: The reason T cells trigger this reaction seems to lie in our DNA. When both parents have psoriasis, the child may have a 50% chance of developing it too. But scientists have learned that not everyone who inherits genes for psoriasis gets psoriasis. For this condition to appear, it seems that a person must inherit the “right” mix of genes and be exposed to a trigger, these triggers will be explained below.
Stress: As many as 80% of people having flare-ups report increased stress or a recent emotional trauma. But it’s still unclear exactly how this occurs. Although one study showed that people who tend to worry more were almost twice less likely to respond to treatment compared to more relaxed people.
Skin injury: Sometimes an injury to the skin can cause the formation of a psoriasis patch. It can take 2 to 6 weeks for a psoriasis lesion to develop after an injury. Types of injuries that can trigger a flare include:
- Excessive scratching
- Increased friction from clothing or skin rubbing against skin, such as armpits or under breasts
- Viral rashes
- Drug rashes
Infection: Some evidence suggests that streptococcal infections may cause a type of plaque psoriasis. These bacterial infections have been shown to cause a type of psoriasis that looks like small red drops on the skin, read about the 7 different types of psoriasis to find yours.
Drugs: Including lithium, which is prescribed for bipolar disorder; high blood pressure medications such as beta blockers; antimalarial drugs; and medication like ibuprofen or naproxen for inflammation.
Weather: Exposure to direct sunlight often aggravates the rash. But cold winter days can also cause the rash to worsen, to avoid either cases the right treatment for protection must be used.
Although these causes are universal, the trigger is not the same for everyone. What triggers psoriasis in one person may not cause psoriasis to develop in another. As psoriasis is a life-long condition, it is important to take an active role in managing it. Learning more about psoriasis, seeing a dermatologist to discuss treatment options, and developing a healthy lifestyle can help people live life to the fullest.
Treatments for Psoriasis
While there is no remedy that can get rid of psoriasis completely, there are many different treatments that deal with the symptoms. Most of them fall into three categories:
- Topical treatment – Deals with the visible part of the psoriasis
- Light treatment – Various UV light is used to keep the skin cells from multiplying fast.
- Medication – Oral or injected medication can help keep the condition at bay if the symtoms are severe.
Most of the above treatments require medical attention. All drugs must be prescribed. However, there are natural remedies that can be used at home. They are not as costly or time-consuming, but can show the same kinds of results as the prescribed treatments. They include fish oil, turmeric, Dead Sea salt, tea tree oil, avocado oil, Oregon grape extract, vitamin B cream, and coconut oil for psoriasis.