Have you noticed some people having red, itchy and scaly skin especially in knees, elbows and scalp region? You may have nightmare thinking that it is a contagious disease and may spread by touching; however the fact is that it does not spreads by touching. Sometimes, the red scaly skin cracks and bleeds too. This condition is known as psoriasis and it is estimated that around 10 million people suffer with this disease in India. In USA, it is the most common autoimmune disease.
Psoriasis is a non-contagious, chronic auto immune disease of the skin which causes red, itchy and scaly skin. It is mainly seen in the knees, elbow and scalp and at times it can also affect torso, palms and soles of feet too. In this condition, the body tends to speed the life cycle of the skin cells. It causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. This extra skin formed is red, patchy in appearance and gives pain and burning sensation. Psoriasis can start at any age including childhood. Researchers have found out that its peak onset is at 15 to 25 years and 50 to 60 years. It has also been observed that about one third of patients with psoriasis have family members too suffering from psoriasis as the predisposition factor is the genes.
Different types of Psoriasis:
- Guttate psoriasis – seen primarily in young children and young adults. Mostly seen in trunk, arms, legs and scalp.
- Inverse psoriasis – it affects the armpits, under breast and around genitals.
- Nail psoriasis – as the name suggest it occurs in finger nails and toe nails.
- Plaque psoriasis – most common type of psoriasis which can occur anywhere in the body.
- Pustular psoriasis – uncommon form of psoriasis which can spread wide or can be seen in small patch. It is seen in hands, feet or fingertips.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Dystrophic nails
- High fever
- Itchy skin
- Red patches on skin
- Scaly skin
- Swelling in joints
Symptoms of psoriasis vary based on the type of psoriasis. Medical advice is required if any of the sign and symptom is seen. The situation can get worsen if unnoticed. Causes of psoriasis are not fully understood, but it’s thought to be related to immune system with T cells and WBC’s. Researchers have found that even genes play important role in triggering psoriasis.
There is no specific blood test. A dermatologist usually examines and determines, if it is psoriasis. Some doctor may take skin sample and observe under microscope. The doctor may ask for family history of psoriasis.
Doctors decide treatment based on the type and severity of psoriasis and the areas of skin affected, the traditional approach is to start with the mildest treatments and then progress to stronger ones, only if required. The ultimate aim is to locate the most effective way to decrease cell turnover with less possible side effects. Lot of research is happening currently with a goal to improve treatment for psoriasis.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol as it triggers psoriasis.
- Depending on the severity of psoriasis, treatment plan is given which includes phototherapy, topical ointment, immunomodulators, TNF inhibitors, artificial tears, coal tar, Vitamin D analogs and corticosteroids.
- Regularly apply moisture and oil to protect skin.
- Take bath with lukewarm water.
It is also seen that patients with psoriasis are prone to variety of diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, inflammatory bowel syndrome, hyperlipidemia, liver problems and arthritis. So, it is very important for all the patients to be carefully monitored by the physician. Talk with your dermatologist before stopping medicine, since one type of psoriasis can turn into another and can cause more serious one. Stress, anxiety and depression can be side effects of psoriasis. One can have benefit from therapy or support groups where one can meet other people experiencing same issues. This will help person with psoriasis to cope and manage the disease efficiently.
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Radha K. Iyer is a contributing writer on Treatum Blog. When she is not writing, she can be found reading health and food blogs or experimenting with her culinary skills.
Disclaimer: The entire content of this article is for information purpose only and is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information. It is not a substitute for professional care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem and disease.