UPDATED ON: 31 Aug 2023, 22:47 PM
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What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Depending on its severity, it may impact an individual’s physical, emotional and social well-being.

Psoriasis is a common skin condition. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Psoriasis happens as a result of a rapid buildup of skin cells. This may lead to the formation of red, thick and scaly patches on the skin’s surface. The lesions are usually covered with white or silver scales and cause itching and pain.
According to the World Health Organization, there is no cure for psoriasis. However, awareness about the different types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment options and prevention measures can help people manage psoriasis.

There are multiple types of psoriasis such as plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis and nail psoriasis.

Causes of Psoriasis

The exact cause of psoriasis remains unclear, whereas a combination of genetic and environmental factors play a significant role. Genetics; especially, play an important part as anyone whose family member may have suffered from psoriasis, can be at a higher risk.

As per The American Academy of Dermatology states that psoriasis is primarily a response of a malfuncton in the immune system, which tends to work overactively, causing the body to make new cells in a speedy way. When these extra cells keep piling on the skin’s surface, it is identified as psoriasis.

This disease is not counted as contagious. But studies claim it could be triggered by stress, a skin injury, an illness or infection, weather change or even allergies.

Also read: 6 myths and facts about this condition

Key Facts About Psoriasis

Major Symptoms
  • Patches of thick and dry skin, also called plaques
  • Red and itchy skin
  • Pus-filled bumps
  • Dry, thin silvery-white coating called scale
  • Sore and painful skin
  • Discoloration and/or thickening of nails
Necessary Health Tests
  • Medical examination
  • Medical tests
  • Skin biopsy
  • Topical treatment with ointments and moisturizers
  • Phototherapy
  • Medication
  • Biological drugs
  • Alternative treatments and natural healing

Symptoms of Psoriasis

It is important for people to be aware of the symptoms of psoriasis so that it can be managed right. Your symptoms may vary based on the type of psoriasis you have and how severe it is. The lesions may typically appear on elbows, scalp, lower back and knees, but the areas affected by psoriasis aren’t limited to these. Some of the common signs include:

  • Red patches of skin with silvery-white scales
  • Itching, burning, or soreness in affected areas
  • Thickened or pitted nails
  • Dry and cracked skin that may bleed

Diagnosis of Psoriasis

You will have to visit a dermatologist to get a diagnosis of psoriasis. The expert will examine your skin lesions for common signs, apart from checking your medical history. They may ask questions related to:

  • Whether you have itchy skin
  • If you have developed any nail problems including thickening or yellow nails
  • If you may have noticed any joint-related problems including swelling or stiffness
  • Whether you have any family members who have suffered psoriasis
  • If you have been suffering increased stress or any illness

In extreme cases, dermatologists may also consider a skin biopsy, which may involve removing a patch of skin and observing it under a microscope, to diagnose psoriasis and rule out other skin conditions.

Treatment of Psoriasis

There is no definite cure for psoriasis, but doctors may recommend treatment options to manage the symptoms. This is important so that psoriasis does not interfere with the person’s day-to-day functioning. The kind of treatment chosen for you will be driven by the type of psoriasis you have and it gives definite relief.

Here are the various treatments you may be recommended:

1. Topical Treatments: These are applied directly to the affected skin and include corticosteroids, retinoids, moisturizers, and salicylic acid.

2. Light therapy or Phototherapy: When the skin is exposed to controlled amounts of natural or artificial ultraviolet light, it may help slow down skin cell growth, which is the primary cause behind psoriasis.

3. Medication: Your medical expert may prescribe oral or injectable medications to manage psoriasis.

4. Biologic Drugs: As per an NCBI study, biologic therapies for psoriasis make use of molecules designed to block specific molecular steps that are important in the development of psoriasis.

Psoriasis Related FAQs

Is psoriasis contagious?

No, psoriasis is not contagious. It is an autoimmune condition and cannot be transmitted from person to person.

Can psoriasis affect other parts of the body besides the skin?

Yes, in some cases, psoriasis can also affect the nails (psoriatic nail disease) and joints (psoriatic arthritis).

Can psoriasis be cured?

Currently, there is no cure for psoriasis, but treatments can help manage and control the symptoms effectively.

What are the worst habits for psoriasis?

Staying away from the sun, smoking, consuming inflammatory foods and drinks, picking on your skin, disturbed sleep patterns and not being careful about skincare ingredients can make your psoriasis worse. Besides that, not seeking professional treatment at the right time can have an adverse affect on your condition.

Are psoriasis and eczema the same?

No! While they may seem similar due to the common factors of inflammation and irritation, these conditions are different. Psoriasis will typically lead to scaly and itchy patches, and eczema will make you feel itchier. The causes are also different - psoriasis is an autoimmune condition, while eczema can be caused by triggers such as smoke, skincare products, certain fabrics and more environmental fabrics.

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