Psoriasis is a skin condition that most commonly affects the elbows, knees and scalp although it can appear all over the body. Symptoms of Psoriasis can include itching and soreness, so you can obtain treatment to help alleviate this. To buy Psoriasis medications online, complete a free consultation.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that affects both children and adults.
Skin cells grow faster than they should and cause patches or 'plaques' of skin to form. These are usually red, flaky or crusty and topped with silvery scales.
These patches can appear anywhere on the body, but are commonly found on these areas:
Most people with psoriasis only have small patches on the affected area(s) of the body, and these are usually more irritating than painful. However, in more severe cases, the patches can be very sore.
This disease can also have a major impact on quality of life. Because it's a chronic (long-lasting) condition, people with it can expect to have it for life. This can seriously affect self-esteem as psoriasis generally has an adverse effect on appearance.
It is also common for people with psoriasis to develop pain or tenderness in the joints and connective tissue. In some cases, it can also cause swelling. This condition is known as psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis tends to flare up and then subside. The length of the flare-up depends on the trigger and the individual with the condition.
These flare-ups can begin at any age. However, the condition is most common in adults under 35 years old. Both men and women can get psoriasis, and there's no indication that one gender is more at risk.
Psoriasis is not contagious, however there are several known risk factors that may contribute to the likelihood of you contracting it.
People whose parents have psoriasis are more at risk, as are those with weak immune systems (such as HIV patients or children and young adults with recurring infections such as strep throat).
Stress and obesity are also risk factors, although smoking is perhaps the one that contributes most to psoriasis.
There are several treatments for psoriasis. Whilst they do not cure it, they alleviate the symptoms and often slow down the cells' life cycles.
Some lifestyle changes may help your symptoms, but topical creams and ointments tend to be the most effective over-the-counter therapies.
Your doctor can also prescribe stronger medications and light therapy, both of which have had good results.
Psoriasis is caused by the body producing too many skin cells.
Instead of the regular 3-4 week skin cell life cycle, the cells of people with psoriasis are made and replaced between 3-7 days. This results in a build-up that presents as the psoriasis plaques.
The exact cause for this increase in skin cell production is not yet fully understood. However, it's thought to be connected to the immune system; more specifically, the T-cells, neutrophils and other white blood cells.
T-cells travel through the body and protect it against foreign substances (usually disease and infections).
Psoriasis causes the T-cells to attack the healthy skin cells, just like they would to heal a wound or treat an infection. These T-cells are considered 'overactive' and trigger the production of more healthy skin cells plus extra T-cells and white blood cells.
These then travel into the skin, and that is what causes inflammation and, in some cases, pustular lesions to form. The blood vessels in the affected areas dilate and create the warmth and redness associated with psoriasis.
This quickly becomes an ongoing cycle. New skin cells rapidly move to the top layers of the skin and start to build up in patches. This continues until the condition is treated or the immune response naturally subsides.
The symptoms of psoriasis often present or become worse after a 'trigger' event. While different people have different triggers, here are some more common causes:
Some medications are known to trigger psoriasis. These include, but are not limited to, lithium, high blood pressure medications, antimalarial drugs and iodides.
Psoriasis presents in different ways for everyone, however it is characterised by the red patches of skin that appear on the body. These patches vary in size. They can be as small as flakes of dandruff or take over large areas of the body.
Sometimes the patches are itchy and painful. They often have silvery scales which feel rough to the touch.
Most types of psoriasis are cyclical, so symptoms come and go. They will flare for a few weeks or months and then subside or even go into complete remission.
There are several types of psoriasis, and each has variations on the red plaques associated with the disease.
The most common form is plaque psoriasis. This is what causes the inflamed skin lesions. These are raised from the skin, dry and covered in silvery scales. They may also itch or be very painful.
You might have a few plaques or have several large areas. This type of psoriasis can occur anywhere, including the genitals or the soft tissue in the mouth.
However, there are two main types of plaque psoriasis; the first is scalp psoriasis which can eventually lead to hair loss, and the second is flexural psoriasis which occurs in the creases of the skin (armpit, under the breasts, groin and skin folds). The latter will not have the rough scaling.
Another form of the condition is nail psoriasis which can affect both fingernails and toenails. It can cause discolouration, pitting and abnormal growth. The nail might even become loose and separate from the nail bed. In rare cases, the nail can crumble.
Guttate or 'drop' psoriasis is common among young adults and children. It often begins after contracting a bacterial infection, such as strep throat.
This type of psoriasis presents as water drop-shaped lesions that are covered in a fine scale. These are much thinner than the plaques found in plaque psoriasis. They are commonly found on the legs, scalp or trunk.
Inverse psoriasis presents with smooth patches of red skin around the armpits, groin, genitals and under the breasts. This often gets worse with friction and can be caused by fungal infections.
Pustular psoriasis is a very rare form of the condition. Pus-filled blisters present either in widespread patches or on the hands, feet or fingertips. It develops very quickly, taking just hours to get to the blistering stage. This type of psoriasis can also cause fever, severe itching and diarrhoea.
The least common form of this disease is erythrodermic psoriasis. This covers the body in a widespread, intense red rash that peels and feels like it's burning. Individuals with this condition may also experience a high temperature.
The final type of psoriasis is psoriatic arthritis. This is where individuals experience swollen and painful joints in addition to the scaly skin plaques. However, in some cases, it is only the joint symptoms that suggest psoriatic arthritis.
This condition can range from mild to severe and can affect any joint or connective tissue in the body. As time goes on, this can cause progressive joint damage and may lead to permanent deformity in rare cases.
If you have psoriasis you are much more likely to develop other medical conditions. They are not symptoms of psoriasis, but you should be aware of them:
There is no cure for psoriasis, but you can manage the symptoms and slow down the production of skin cells.
There are many lifestyle changes you can make to minimise the symptoms of psoriasis, such as regularly moisturising your entire body to hydrate the skin.
Try to quit smoking and manage stress better. You should also avoid known triggers for psoriasis.
There are several alternative therapies you can try; success has been noted anecdotally by those using aloe vera cream, fish oil and Oregon grape to alleviate the symptoms.
However, over-the-counter medications are generally much more effective.
The primary treatment for psoriasis is the application of topical creams and ointments applied directly to the affected area(s).
Topical corticosteroids are the most common form of treatment for mild to moderate bouts of psoriasis. These offer relief to those with the condition by reducing inflammation and stopping the itching sensation. They can also be used in combination with other psoriasis medications.
It's recommended to use a mild ointment for application to sensitive areas such as the face, skin folds or widespread patches of skin. A smaller area that's more difficult to treat may require a stronger corticosteroid.
It is not advisable to use corticosteroids for an extended period as they can cause thinning of the skin and the treatment may lose some of its effectiveness. Therefore, topical corticosteroids should only be used during psoriasis flare-ups.
Vitamin D analogues are another form of treatment. This cream or ointment slows the skin growth by applying a synthetic form of this vitamin to the skin. This treatment can also be used in combination with other medications.
If over-the-counter medications do not relieve your symptoms, you should visit a medical professional, especially if the condition causes you discomfort and pain or makes routine tasks very difficult.
A doctor will be able to diagnose psoriasis by looking at your skin. However, in rare cases they may require a skin biopsy to determine the exact type of psoriasis or rule out other skin conditions.
If the diagnosis is uncertain or the condition is severe, your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist. If your doctor suspects you have psoriatic arthritis, they'll refer you to a rheumatologist.
At this stage, treatment can include phototherapy – exposing the skin to certain types of light – or more systemic treatments applied orally or injected. These will work throughout the whole body to minimise the symptoms.
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