Everything You Need to Know About Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes red, white, or silvery itchy patches on the skin. The problem isn’t serious and generally doesn’t cause any long-term problems, but it can be unsightly and uncomfortable. Psoriasis usually appears on your elbows, knees, and lower back, but it can appear almost anywhere on the body including the face.
The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, but doctors believe the symptoms develop when the immune system sends out faulty signals resulting in abnormal growth of skin cells. Symptoms may flare up from time to time with periods of remission in between. In some people, psoriasis becomes chronic with symptoms never going away completely.
Many people wonder if there’s a cure for psoriasis and the answer is no. Psoriasis can’t be cured, but treatments are available to control symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Although psoriasis cannot be cured completely, it can be controlled so you can live a full life despite this common skin problem.
All of us have millions of skin cells growing and dying every minute of our lives. The number of skin cells on your body stays roughly the same because as old cells die off new ones are created. This process is regulated by special genes inside each cell called “speed limit” genes that determine how fast skin cells grow and divide to replace older dead skin cells.
When someone has psoriasis, this process speeds up with more skin cells growing and dividing every day than is normal. The result is a buildup of new skin cells that push older ones up to the surface, which causes thick red patches with silvery scales known as psoriasis plaques.
The immune system may be involved in this process because most people with psoriasis have higher than normal numbers of skin cells when looked at under a microscope. But it is still not clear why the immune system malfunctions in some people and triggers psoriasis. This increased growth rate of skin cells doesn’t necessarily mean there are more skin cells, only that the existing number is being produced at a faster pace.
In those who have plaque psoriasis, areas, where the disease flare-ups are typically found on the body, including elbows, knees, lower back, face, palms, and soles.
Plaque psoriasis usually develops gradually and occasionally produces mild symptoms without any redness or scaling – it looks like dry skin that forms a silvery-white scaly area of skin that may crack and become tender during flare-ups.
Psoriasis plaques vary in size from small patches to large areas and can occur anywhere on the body (the trunk (back), arms, legs) but most commonly affects the scalp, knees, and elbows. Psoriasis does not cause permanent hair loss but can make your scalp itchy and inflamed with some scales falling off easily while others stick around for long periods.
In other cases such as guttate type (small drop-shaped lesions), the spots may appear on the arms, legs, or face as raised red flat patches with white scales which look like they have been sprinkled by a fine layer of salt.
In those who have guttate psoriasis, these symptoms will usually clear within a few weeks without leaving any scars. In cases where psoriasis becomes chronic and doesn’t improve with treatment, it can be a life-long condition causing scaling and thickened skin that’s made up of very rapid multiplication of cells causing scaly red patches to form on the top layer of skin.
Severe plaque psoriasis can cover large areas with thick silvery scales all over the body so that you feel very dry and uncomfortable or in some extremely itchy with no area of skin left uncovered.
Psoriasis sometimes affects the nails which may become thicker, loosened, or detached from the nail bed, and discolored with white patches that may be split across like squashed spiders’ legs.
Two-thirds of people who have psoriasis experience it on their scalp (plaque psoriasis) causing dry scalps with red areas covered in silvery patches of scales. It can make your hair feel brittle, frizzy, and wispy with dandruff flakes falling off easily but leaving scaly patches still attached to some hairs. The inflammation caused by plaque psoriasis can also cause itchiness (pruritus). Psoriatic nails are similar to those with fungal infections such as white lines running from the cuticle to the tip which can be inflamed and painful with splitting, flaking, or pitting of the nails.
What is the main cause of psoriasis:
Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease caused by the immune system attacking the body’s skin cells. The main cause of psoriasis is not known, but it tends to run in families and has some links with other autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and thyroid problems.
What are the causes of secondary psoriasis:
There are some common causes of secondary psoriasis:
– Bacterial infections include Staphylococcus aureus (golden staph) and Streptococcus pyogenes which usually affect people who already have some type of inflammation somewhere on their bodies. These staph infections can be particularly severe.
– Viral infections like hepatitis C or HIV can damage the liver or immune system
– Fungal infections like those caused by Candida albicans tend to affect people who are taking antibiotics.
What is the treatment for psoriasis:
There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are many treatments that can help to control the symptoms. The aim of treatment will be different for each person and depends on how much they are bothered by their symptoms and how easy it is for them to access healthcare services. For example:
– Some people may only need to see a GP (family doctor) if their symptoms become bothersome; others will need hospital treatment if psoriatic arthritis affects joints or gets worse quickly. Treatment would then continue during periods when symptoms flare up or as long as arthritis remains active.
– Many people with psoriasis use moisturizers to help reduce scaling and itching. These are safe to use, but creams that contain steroids should not be used for more than a few weeks at a time unless recommended by your doctor.
– If your skin becomes infected or inflamed then you may need antibiotics or steroid injections into the affected area of skin to help get rid of the infection/inflammation.
– People with psoriasis often find their skin can become damaged by sunlight, so using sunscreen is advised during sunny weather and also when using any other treatment that makes the skin more sensitive to light (e.g. PUVA/UVB treatments).
Is psoriasis dangerous:
Psoriasis itself is not usually dangerous. However, having psoriasis can make you more vulnerable to infections. For example, if your skin becomes red or broken then it might be easier for bugs like Staphylococcus aureus (golden staph) to take hold and cause an infection. This is why treatment with anti-psoriatic medications should never be stopped suddenly as this could lead to an overwhelming S. Aureus infection (called ‘Folliculitis Decalvans’).
The most serious complication of psoriasis is the development of psoriatic arthritis which affects around 10% of people with psoriasis.
Is there any special diet:
There are no foods that can cure or treat psoriasis, but a healthy balanced diet is important for everyone, including people who have psoriatic arthritis. A child or adult with psoriatic arthritis should eat a healthy and varied diet that includes foods from the following list:
– Plenty of fruit and vegetables
– Some meat, fish, eggs, and beans (to get protein)
– Foods containing starch such as pieces of bread, rice, and pasta (for energy)
– Milk for calcium if they don’t eat dairy products or their teeth are affected by psoriasis.