What Is Psoriasis
Do you know which is the largest organ in your body is? No, it’s not your liver nor your intestines. Rather it’s your skin. Yes, you read it right! Our skin is the largest organ in our body that has some important functions to perform. And if this skin has any disorder, it is as important to treat as other body issues.
Psoriasis is one of those disorders. It is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to make new skin cells more rapidly. Therefore, skin cells mature and fall off the body surface within days rather than weeks. It is a chronic condition that tends to appear in cycles. That results in flaring up for weeks or months and then recede for a while.
There is no cure for this ailment, but treatments can minimize the symptoms. Dermatologists can suggest a treatment plan that eases the painful symptoms of psoriasis.
Now, Let’s discuss some facts about psoriasis;
The exact cause of psoriasis is still unknown. But it is considered as an autoimmune disease. And some triggers are reported that cause or flare-up this disorder:
- Foods: like red meat, eggs, wheat and wheat derivatives (if you have gluten sensitivity like in celiac disease), processed foods, some vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and alcohol.
- Skin infections and injuries
- weather like dry and cold weather
- smoking and alcohol consumption
- some medications
Red, itchy, dry patches appear most commonly on knees, elbows, scalp, and trunk region. But it can also show up anywhere like on eyelids, lips, ears, skin folds, hands, feet, and nails.
Some people have a mild type of psoriasis that only show symptoms like itchy, red, dry, and patchy skin.
But in severe cases, the symptoms appear in large areas of your body. And cause painful cracks on your skin that may bleed also. The dryness causes the skin to appear like having silver scales.
Nails become thick and ridged.
Types of psoriasis:
There are many types of psoriasis but the most common is plaque psoriasis.
- Plaque psoriasis: It causes dry, red skin patches (lesions) covered with silvery scales. It may be itchy or tender, and the lesions may be few or many. They usually appear on elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp.
- Nail psoriasis: It can affect fingernails and toenails, causing pitting, thickening, and discoloration. Psoriatic nails may become loose and detach from the nail bed.
- Scalp psoriasis: It affects your scalp. It causes dry and itchy scalp.
- Guttate psoriasis: This type generally affects young adults and children. It is usually triggered by a bacterial infection. The scales appear in this psoriasis are finer than in other psoriatic types.
- Inverse psoriasis: This mainly affects the skin folds of the armpits, breasts, groin, and buttocks. Inverse psoriasis causes smooth, patchy-red skin that worsens with friction and sweating. Fungal infections may trigger this type of psoriasis.
- Pustular psoriasis: This is a rare form of psoriasis. As the name indicates, it causes a rapid appearance of pus-filled lesions in smaller areas like, on the palms or the soles of the feet.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis. The least common but severe type of psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis can affect your whole body with a red, peeling skin with a burning sensation. In severe cases, skin peels off in the form of a sheet.
- Psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis causes swollen, painful joints that are symptoms of arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint. It can cause stiffness and cause damage to joints that in severe cases may lead to permanent joint damage.
The treatment is according to the type of psoriasis and severity of the condition. The treatment plan includes;
- Topical medications
- Light therapy
- Systemic medications
Topical ointments of steroids, vitamin D, vitamin A derivatives can be used. Some immunosuppressants are also used to suppress the genetic response of producing more skin cells.
For pain and itchiness, some OTC medicines are prescribed. Usually, patients are advised to keep their skin moisturized.
Some of the major risk factors in Psoriasis are:
- Family history; as researchers have found out some genes linked to psoriasis.
- Bacterial and viral infections; infections like HIV, strep throat can be the risk factors for psoriasis as they weaken your immune system
- Use of some medicines like B.P medicines, lithium, NSAIDs and anti-malarial
- Smoking and alcohol consumption
- Prolonged stress
- Other autoimmune diseases like celiac disease
The exact diagnosis of psoriasis is very important. Usually, it is misunderstood with eczema and other skin diseases. It is the most underdiagnosed and undertreated disease of the skin. It is important to see your skin specialist find out the exact condition of your skin and nails.
Having psoriasis increases the risk of:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease, sclerosis and Celiac disease
- Kidney issues
- Parkinson’s disease
- Mental disorders like depression.
As psoriasis is a chronic illness, patients’ lifestyle is deeply affected by it. It is better to diagnose it at the early stages. You can contact the best dermatologists in Lahore
To avoid the complications and life-threatening ailments, psoriasis should be diagnosed and treated accordingly. Usually, all types of psoriasis result in psoriatic arthritis. And that condition is very painful when you have permanent joint damage.