All You Need to Know About Psoriasis
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis may be defined as a non-contagious, inflammatory disease of the skin that is characterized by an increase in the rate of skin cell turnover, causing thick skin cells to appear on the skin. The skin usually becomes pinkish red with well-defined margins. Also, the affected parts of the skin become very dry and unpleasant. The affected individuals usually experience itching, which is arguably the most common distressing symptom.
So, how common is psoriasis?
According to research, nearly 1-2% of the population in Singapore are affected by this disease. What’s more, psoriasis is one of the ten most common skin diseases that are currently treated in Singapore!
How do I know if I have Psoriasis?
There are five main types of psoriasis and this implies that for you to know whether you are already suffering from it or not, you must first familiarize yourself with the various types. Below are some of the most common types of psoriasis:
- Plaque Psoriasis: This is the most common type of psoriasis which usually appear as raised and reddish patches that are covered with silver-white scales of dead skin cells. These plaques or patches will mostly show up on your knees, scalp, elbows as well as the lower back. They can be very itchy and painful and usually crack and may bleed as well.
- Guttate: This is a type of psoriasis that shows up as very small dot-like lesions and usually begins at childhood or early adulthood. It may be caused by a strep throat infection. It is the second-most common form of psoriasis. Research has shown that nearly 10% of individuals who suffer from psoriasis develop this type of psoriasis.
- Inverse psoriasis: This will manifest as extra red lesions in body folds, including under your arm, in your groin or behind the knees. They usually appear shiny and smooth.
- Pustular: This is characterized by blisters with noninfectious pus that are surrounded by red skin. It is important to mention that this pus is not contagious as it only contains dead white blood cells. It can attack any part of your body but usually occur most often on your feet and hands.
- Erythrodermic: This is arguably the most severe type of psoriasis and often results in widespread, fiery redness in most parts of your body. It can lead to lots of itching and pain, making your skin come off in sheets. However, it is extremely rare, appearing in only 3% of people who have psoriasis in their lifetime.
It is imperative to note that psoriasis can equally affect your nails, resulting in a pitting appearance. What’s more, those experiencing severe psoriasis can experience joint pain, tenderness, and swelling.
So, what causes psoriasis?
Research has revealed that genes play a crucial role in making an individual prone to the development of psoriasis. There is also some evidence that suggests that environmental factors may somehow trigger the appearance of psoriasis. Your immune system, after being activated, will, in turn, trigger the increase in growth of skin cells, which will reach your skin surface between three and four days as opposed to the normal four weeks.
What are some of the factors that can potentially worsen my psoriasis situation?
Studies have established that both emotional and physical stress can potentially aggravate psoriasis. Besides, flu, as well as throat infections, may worsen the severity of the disease. This implies that you should try as much as possible to strengthen your immune system through a healthy and well-balanced diet.
Apart from leading a healthy lifestyle, you will also have to incorporate an exercise routine into your lifestyle. If you didn’t know, exercise will not only help strengthen your immune system but will also help relieve stress from your body. What’s more, the prospect of working out outdoors under the sun can be hugely beneficial to your condition.
Certain medications can provoke psoriasis appearance. It is also important that you use your medications as prescribed by your doctor. Above all, you’ll need to keep yourself hydrated by taking lots of fluids. You may also consider using emollients to help prevent your skin from drying out and itching.
You should also top from scratching your skin since this may aggravate your condition. You can also use the available anti-itch creams or medications to prevent yourself from regularly scratching your skin.
So, how is psoriasis diagnosed?
There are no special tools or blood tests used in the diagnosis of psoriasis. Usually, your doctor will examinethe affected part of your skin and determines whether you are suffering from psoriasis or not.
Your doctor will also need to know more about your family history. Nearly a third of people having psoriasis have a family member with the disease. Your doctor may also take a small piece of the affected area in your skin and examine it under a microscope. From a microscopic point of view, the skin areas affected by psoriasis usually seem thicker and inflamed in comparison to parts of the skin with eczema.
So, what are the treatment options available for psoriasis?
There are several treatment options available including:
- Topical medications: These have been shown to provide a considerable amount of relief for those suffering from mild psoriasis cases. Topical medications may include coal tar, topical steroids, and vitamin D. However, these medications should only be used according to your doctor’s prescription.
- Phototherapy: Ultraviolet light treatment can also be a great option for those psoriasis patients. With this type of treatment, patients will have to undergo Ultraviolet-B light treatment a few sessions every week for several months. However, it is important to note that patients are only subjected to a certain number of Ultraviolet-B light treatment sessions in their entire lifetime.
- Oral medications: If your condition fails to respond to the above treatment options, the use of oral medication can be an option. However, oral medications come with their fair share of side effects besides suppressing your immune system. What’s more, these oral drugs could also damage your liver and kidney.
Is Psoriasis a rare skin condition?
We have previously mentioned that this condition is very common. So, it’s not a rare disease. However, it is also non-contagious, implying that you can’t pass it on to the next person through physical contact.
Is psoriasis curable?
Sadly, psoriasis is incurable. Thankfully, a significant number of patients are usually able to manage their condition well and can lead a normal and healthy lifestyle just like everyone else.
It is very important to know that numerous studies tend to show that psoriasis shares some strong links with other medical conditions. Diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol levels, and liver problems are just a few examples!
This, therefore, means that you should not only strive to take care of your psoriasis condition accordingly, but it is equally very important to schedule an appointment with your doctor for regular medical examination. Depending on your health, your doctor may have to carry out some blood tests including checking your cholesterol as well as blood sugar levels.