What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin condition, which speeds up the lifecycle of the skin cells, thus causing cells to rapidly built-up. The rapid build-up on the skin surface results in scaling on the surface of the skin, i.e., the extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are often itchy and, at times, painful- burn and stings.
Mostly, the disease affects the outside of the knees, elbows, or scalp; however, it can appear on any location, including the hands, neck, scalp, feet, and face. In some situations, it may affect the nails, the mouth, as well as the area around genitals.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, more than 8 million people in the United States and 125 million people worldwide have psoriasis.
Psoriasis has no cure. It is a chronic disease, which comes and goes. Treatment usually aims at stopping the skin cells from proliferating.
There are several types of psoriasis, but you can only get one at a time. In some cases, after the symptom of psoriasis disappears, a newer form appears, usually in the response of triggers. The condition is also associated with other conditions like type 2 diabetes, psoriatic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, anxiety, and depression.
The exact causes are not known. Nevertheless, the immune system and genetics are major culprits in the development of psoriasis. It is vital to note that most psoriasis types result from the same triggers, such as:
- Skin injury
- Medications such as Lithium, Antimalarial drugs, Quinidine, Inderal, and Indomethacin
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Vitamin D deficiency
Types of psoriasis
There are several types of psoriasis. some of them are following:
1. Plaque Psoriasis
Plaque Psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. Typically, every 10 people with psoriasis, 8 of them have this kind.
It manifests itself by the dry, raised, inflamed, red skin lesions (plaques) that are covered with silvery scales.
Plaque Psoriasis may be itchy and appears in the following part mostly though it can affect any part of the body: elbows, scalp, knee, and lower back.
2. Guttate Psoriasis
Guttate Psoriasis is common in children and young adults.
It manifests itself in the form of small, pink-red spots on your skin, and they appear on the trunk, upper arms, thighs, and scalp.
Guttate Psoriasis is triggered by a bacterial infection such as strep throat. It may go away without treatment after a few weeks.
3. Nail psoriasis
Nail psoriasis affects toenails and fingernails, resulting in abnormal nail growth, discoloration, and pitting.
At times, The nails loosen and separate from the nail bed- onycholysis, and in severe cases, it may cause the nail to crumble.
4. Inverse psoriasis
Inverse psoriasis is triggered by a fungal infection, sweating, and friction.
It affects the armpit, groin, under breasts, and region around the groin. It causes smooth red, inflamed skin patches, which worsen with friction and sweating.
5. Erythrodermic psoriasis
This kind covers the entire body with a red, peeling rash that can itch or burn intensely.
The skin appears burned. It is triggered by severe sunburn, allergic reaction to drugs, and infection.
6. Pustular psoriasis
Pustular psoriasis occurs in widespread patches/small areas on the hands, fingertips, and feet.
Uniquely, it spread fast and develops blisters filled with pus, which occur within hours after your skin becomes red and tender.
This condition is accompanied by fever, severe itching, chills, and diarrhea.
7. Psoriatic arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis is where you have both psoriasis and arthritis.
Patients usually have discolored warm joints, painful, stiff joints, sausage-like swelling on fingers and toes, and nail changes. It can affect any joint.
The good news is the disease is not crippling when compared to other types of arthritis. But it may result in stiffness and progressive joint damage, which may lead to permanent deformity.
Symptoms of psoriasis
Common symptoms include:
- Red, raised and inflamed patches of skin
- Whitish-silver scales/plaques on the red, inflamed patches
- Children may develop Small scaling spots
- Dry skin that cracks and bleeds
- Itching and burning around patches
- soreness around patches
- thick pitted nails
- painful Swollen and stiff joints
Diagnosis of psoriasis
- Physical examination: doctors can determine psoriasis by looking at symptoms because it is distinct from other conditions.
- Biopsy: it involves taking a small sample of the skin to be tested in the lab. The examination is meant to determine the type of psoriasis.
Psoriasis Treatment options
- Topical treatments: they reduce the severity of psoriasis. They include: topical corticosteroids, topical retinoids, vitamin D analogues, anthralin, salicylic acid and moisturizer
- Systemic medications: patients with moderate to severe psoriasis can get both oral medicines and injections. Common medications include methotrexate, cyclosporine, biologics, and retinoids.
- Light therapy: it uses ultraviolet (UV A and B) or natural light to kills the overactive white blood cells, which attack healthy skin cells and stimulating rapid cell growth.