Last Updated: 15th December, 2020
Psoriasis is considered to be a disorder with the immune system. Infections, anxiety and common colds are among the causes. A rash on the skin is by far the most major symptom, but again the rash affects the joints or nails. Treatment is aimed at eliminating scales and preventing the development of skin cells too fast. Relief could be given through topical antibiotics, light therapy, anti-fungal ointments and other medications.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that predominantly involves the skin, nails, and joints. It is characterized by thick, silvery scales and itchy and dry patches on the skin that are red in color.
It occurs due to a change in the normal life cycle of skin cells which is thought to be triggered by the immune cells. It is a chronic and persistent disease.
Patients with such a disease can experience periods with improvement of their symptoms followed by a period of worsening of their symptoms. According to a 2016 study, the worldwide prevalence of psoriasis is estimated to be approximately 2–3%. A higher prevalence in males has been reported with a peak age of onset is in the third and fourth decade of life.
Causes Of Psoriasis And Reasons Of Triggering
It is not fully known the actual cause of psoriasis. It is generally attributed to immune system issues, the T cells in specific. The function of T cells is to detect and destroy any foreign bodies like viruses and bacteria.
But in people with psoriasis, the T cells attack healthy skin cells by mistake leading to the formation of skin lesions.
Psoriasis can worsen by various factors. This would include infections, anxiety, dry skin, colder weather, tobacco, excessive alcohol intake, and certain medications, including drugs for lithium and high blood pressure.
Signs And Symptoms Of Psoriasis
The signs and symptoms of this disease can differ from person to person. The most common ones are:
- Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
- Dry, cracked skin
- Itching, burning or soreness
- Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
- Swollen and stiff joints
The patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions that cover large areas. There are several different kinds of psoriasis that may include scalp psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, nail psoriasis, plaque psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and guttate psoriasis.
The most common type is plaque psoriasis which is characterized by dry, raised, red skin lesions (plaques) covered with silvery scales.
Complications Of Psoriasis
People who are diagnosed with psoriasis can develop various complications such as psoriatic arthritis. This is quite a prevalent psoriasis complication and in certain joints causes joint damage and a failure of function.
Other complications include eye complications like conjunctivitis, blepharitis, and uveitis, obesity, high blood pressure, heart diseases, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and kidney disease.
Diagnosis Of Psoriasis
In most cases, the diagnosis of psoriasis is fairly straightforward. Diagnosis is established by:
- Physical Examination
Your doctor can diagnose psoriasis by taking your medical history and examining your skin, scalp, and nails.
- Skin Biopsy
Your doctor may take a small sample of skin (biopsy) to determine the exact type of psoriasis and to rule out other skin disorders. It is a painless procedure done on an OPD basis.
Treatment Of Psoriasis
The treatment is aimed at:
- Stopping the skin cells from growing quickly
- Removing silvery scales and softening the skin
For benign to progressive psoriasis, creams, lotions and ointments can be used. Topical creams are juxtaposed with intravenous medicines, oral medicine and light therapy (phototherapy) in much more complex stages of the condition.
- Topical Medicines
This would include coal tar, Vitamin D analogues, salicylic acid, topical retinoids, topical steroids, calcineurin inhibitors, moisturizers and anthralin.
- Light Therapy (Phototherapy)
This treatment for psoriasis employs ultraviolet natural or artificial light. It involves exposing your skin to controlled amounts of natural sunlight. Certain types of light therapy, including the use of ultraviolet artificial light A (UVA) and ultraviolet light B (UVB) alone or with others in conjunction with medication.
- Oral And Injectable Medications
When psoriasis become severe, the doctor may prescribe oral or injected drugs. These include retinoids, methotrexate, cyclosporine and drugs that alter the immune system.
So that psoriasis is a degenerative disease, and it is appropriate to take several efforts to keep the disease under check and improving the quality of life. These are a few easy things you could be doing:
- Take Daily Baths
Taking a regular bath helps eliminate silvery scales and soothes inflamed skin as well. You can add bath oil, colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts to the water and soak. Avoid hot water and harsh soaps and use lukewarm water and mild soaps.
- Use A Moisturizer
Make sure you apply a heavy, ointment-based moisturizer while your skin is still moist. For very dry skin, oils may be preferable. You might need to use a moisturizer multiple time a day throughout the hot, cold and dry weather.
- Talk To Your Doctor About Sun Exposure
Exposing your skin to a controlled amount of sunlight can significantly improve the lesions. But remember that too much of the sun can trigger or worsen outbreaks and increase the risk of skin cancer. Please seek advice from your physician on exposure to sunlight.
- Use Sunscreen
It is very important that you protect your health and unaffected skin from sun damage. Make sure that you apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and above. Generously apply sunscreen and reapply every two hours.
- Tackle Triggers
Try and figure out your triggers and then take steps to minimize their occurrence. For instance, if smoking triggers the flare-ups, seriously consider leaving it if exposure to the sun makes the lesions worse than it already is avoiding moving out during daylight hours and wear protective garments.
- Avoid Alcohol
As the intake of alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms, it is best to avoid or quit the intake of alcohol altogether.
It is important to understand that although psoriasis is a chronic disease, with the latest treatment modalities and with some personal care, you can lead a healthy and fulfilling life. Be regular with your appointments, take your medications on time and avoid triggers, and you can enjoy your life to the fullest. Stay Healthy, Stay Happy!