A chronic autoimmune disorder, psoriasis is a condition that is due an increased buildup of a person’s skin cells, thus resulting in scaling and patches on the surface of their skin.
Redness and inflammation around the scales can been seen on the skin and it is typical for these whitish-silver scales to produce red and think patches. At times, the patches can crack and then bleed.
Psoriasis occurs due to a speeding up around skin production. Generally, skin cells grow deep within skin, gradually rise to its surface, and then they fall off; the lifecycle around skin cells last about a month. Meanwhile, those who suffer from psoriasis find that this skin production occurs in mere days. Because of this fast production, the skin cells don’t fall off and buildup occurs.
While these scales and patches can sometimes be misdiagnoses as a rash, it’s important to note that the condition is not contagious.
Psoriasis scales can be found anywhere on the body, but generally produce on joints like knees and elbows. They can also develop on:
Psoriasis can also affect a person’s mouth, genital area, and nails; however, these areas are less common.
As per the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), approximately 7.5 million individuals in the U.S. suffer from psoriasis. Below is an overview of the types of psoriasis, as well as signs and symptoms, treatments, causes, and triggers around this condition.
Psoriasis can develop in five different types, which include:
The most common type of this condition, plaque psoriasis causes inflamed red patches over the skin that are covered with whitish-silver scales known as ‘plaques’. These patches are found commonly on a person’s scalp, elbow, and knees. According to the ADD, approximately 80% of individuals who suffer from psoriasis have this type of the condition.
This type of psoriasis is common in children and results in small pink dots. Areas they fall around include legs, arms, and torso.
More common in adults, pustular psoriasis creates blisters that are pus-filled, as well as wide areas of skin that are inflamed and red. It can be widespread, but also localized to areas like the feet or hands.
This type of psoriasis creates areas of bright red and shiny skin, which is also inflamed. Scales develop under breasts, within the groin area, in and around genital skinfolds, as well as armpits.
While this is a very rare type of the condition, erythrodermic psoriasis is also quite severe. An individual’s skin almost seems like it has a sunburn, and wide areas of the body are covered at once. A person might run a fever with erythrodermic psoriasis, and the condition can be fatal, so it is highly recommended to seek out medical attention as soon as you notice the symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
Much like any other condition, the signs and symptoms of psoriasis vary from patient to patient. Some experience a few flakey patches here and there, while for others, the condition can take over a major part of their body.
The most common signs and symptoms of this illness, include:
- Raised, red, and inflamed patches on the skin’s surface.
- Whitish-silver scales on the red patches.
- Dry skin that might eventually crack and then bleed.
- A burning and itchy feeling around patches.
- Soreness around the patches.
- Swollen and painful joints.
- Nails that are think and pitted.
Most individuals with this condition go through ‘symptom cycles’. They may get bombarded with severe patches and scales for days or even weeks, and then the psoriasis will clear up and become (almost) unnoticeable. However, weeks will pass, only for their psoriasis to flare up again. Sometimes things trigger symptoms of the condition, other times the condition can disappear all on its own.
There are a wide variety of treatment options when it comes to psoriasis. Below is an overview of these.
When applied directly to the skin surface, there are many topical psoriasis creams and ointments out there that can help reduce the condition’s symptoms. They include:
- Topical corticosteroids
- Topical retinoids
- Vitamin D analogues
- Salicylic acid
For those who suffer with severe-to-moderate psoriasis, as well as individuals with the condition who do not take well to other treatment options, injected or oral medications are available. It’s important to note that some of these do have side effects and doctors generally prescribe them for short time lengths. These medications include:
Using natural or ultraviolet (UV) light, this treatment eliminates overactive while blood cells that go after those healthy skin cells. This is done via sunlight and this type of therapy helps those who suffer from moderate-to-mild psoriasis.
Unfortunately, no one can pinpoint the root cause around this condition; however, psoriasis research has helped discover two major factors around the condition: one is the immune system, the other is genetics.
As mentioned, the illness is an autoimmune disease, and conditions of these types are due to the body essentially attacking itself. When it comes to psoriasis, its our white blood cells that turn on our skin cells.
Generally, white blood cells look to fight infection and get rid of bacteria. As the white cells are confused, the production of skin cells goes into overdrive; causing new skin to be produced at a rapid rate. What ends up happening is that they push to the surface of a sufferer’s skin and end up piling up; causing the patches and scales to appear.
Genetics and family medical history tends to play a role in many of the diseases and conditions out there today, and psoriasis is no exception to this rule. Risks increase for those who have a family member with the condition; however, the predisposition isn’t a high one. In fact, as per the National Psoriasis Foundation, those with family members who have the condition develop about a three percent heightened chance of getting the illness themselves. Still, the risks are there and it’s clear that genetics does play some sort of role when it comes to causes of psoriasis.
While they aren’t causes of the condition, for those who suffer with psoriasis, external triggers can be an annoying part of life. Some external elements can enhance symptoms to the point of creating very painful and severe patches and scales, as well as speeding up the symptom cycle. These triggers aren’t the same for everyone, but common ones for the condition include:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- An accident, scrapes, and cuts
- Vaccines and shots
- Certain medications (antimalarial, high blood pressure, and lithium)
- Some infections, with strep throat known as popular trigger