What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic (long lasting) non-contagious, inflammatory skin condition. Normally new skin cell “replace” the old ones at a healthy pace.
Psoriasis: new skin cells pile up on top of each other too quickly and mix in with the older skin cells on the skin surface. This leads to thickening of the skin and other uncomfortable symptoms. While there are different types of psoriasis, the most common one, is diagnosed as plaque psoriasis.
It appears as thick, raised, red patches with flaking silvery scales and defined borders. These plaques, may feel sore or itchy and may also crack and bleed. While the plaques vary in size, they can appear anywhere on the body, the elbows, knees, scalp, chest, palms, feet or lower back are some common spots.
Causes and are you at risk?
Psoriasis is considered to be an autoimmune disease. This is when your immune system creates an inflammatory response against your own body, and in this case, against your skin! It affects people of different races and genders, but is more common in adults and starts between the ages of 16 to 22.
The exact cause of psoriasis is not known, having a blood relative with this condition increases your risk of having it. Certain triggers can also make psoriasis worse. It could include skin injury, infection, stress, dry or cold weather or too much sunlight exposure.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Most cases it will be enough for your doctor to ask about your symptoms and examine the plaques. In rare cases, diagnosis of psoriasis may require a skin biopsy. The main goal of treatment is to reduce the symptoms and prevent them from affecting your quality of life.
Type of Treatments:
- Topical (applied to skin) – Corticosteroids, Vitamin D & A products
- Internal medication – prescription medications, for severe cases. Available in tablet, capsul or injection form.
- Light Therapy – guided by a dermatologist, sunlight exposure seems to improve psoriasis symptoms by slowing down skin cell turnover.
Your doctor can determine which will be best for you based on the severity of your symptoms.
Living with psoriasis symptoms can be both challenging physically and emotionally. If you or a loved one is suffering with this condition, speak to your doctor or a dermatologist.