Psoriasis is a chronic disorder that affects the skin. It causes the cells to rapidly build up on the surface of the skin, thus forming silvery scales, dry and itchy red patches that are at times painful. Psoriasis basically is a long-lasting chronic disease. It can affect any part of the body, but more often it appears on the scalp, elbows, knees and the lower back. It is more common in adults than children.
The symptoms vary from person to person, but may include one or more of the following symptoms:
- Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
- Small scaling spots (More common in children)
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- Burning or soreness
- Swollen and stiff joints
- Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
- The patches basically can range from a few spots of dandruff like scaling to major sports that cover larger areas of the body.
There are several types of Psoriasis:
Plaque Psoriasis: It is the most common type of Psoriasis; about eight in ten develop this type. It basically causes inflammation, red skin covered with silvery white scales. Often appears on elbows, knees, scalp and lower back.
Guttate Psoriasis: It mostly appears in childhood or young adulthood. This type of Psoriasis causes small, red-pink spots on the skin. Often appears on the trunk, upper arms, thighs and scalp.
Inverse Psoriasis: They appear as bright-red, shiny and smooth lesions and these do not have scales. Often appears in the armpits, the groin, under the breasts and in the skin folds around the buttocks or genitals. Due to its location, it may worsen from rubbing and sweating.
Pustular Psoriasis: This type is uncommon and mostly appears among the adults. It causes pus-filled bumps that are surrounded by red skin. They look infectious but they are not. It may appear only in one area of the body such as the hands and the feet or at times may cover most of the body. They can be very serious and immediate medical attention is recommended.
Nail Psoriasis: In this type the nails break, may lose colour or even get lifted away from the finger with the dead skin underneath it.
The other types of Psoriasis are Scalp and Erythrodermic Psoriasis.
The exact cause of Psoriasis is yet unknown, but experts believe that the immune system, genetics and environmental factors play an important role. Normally, the old skin cells are replaced by the new ones in every four weeks, but in Psoriasis, the body triggers inflammation- causing new cells to move to the surface in every three to four days. This results in the build-up of a rash.
One should consult a Dermatologist for Psoriasis.
Psoriasis is not curable, but can be treated and managed with medical help.
Self-help measures do not cure Psoriasis, but it may help improve the appearance and the feeling of damaged skin. The following measures may benefit:
- Bathing: Bathing regularly helps in removal of scales and calms the inflamed skin. Hot water and harsh soaps should be avoided as they may worsen the symptoms
- Moisturizer/ Oil: After bathing, moisturizes should be applied to the body to keep it moist. For people with very dry skin, oil is recommended as oil has more potency that the creams and lotions. Oil also is effective in preventing water from evaporating from the skin. During extreme dry/cold weather, moisturizers are highly recommended
- Avoid alcohol: Excess consumption of alcohol may decrease the effectiveness of the Psoriasis treatment
- Healthy diet: There is no fact available to prove that a healthy diet will improve Psoriasis, but it is always recommended to have a healthy diet when a person has a chronic disease. A healthy diet includes vegetables and fruits