If you see a dry, scaly skin that is characterized by red patches that look like a raised skin that is itchy, it might be a psoriasis. This condition is a result of the overproduction of the skin cells in response to an abnormal immune system response to certain triggers. Because the skin cells are produced more quickly than normal, which is about two to six days instead of 21 to 28 days, the excess skin cell formation appears as scaly patches on the skin surface. Having the condition can subject the affected individual to potential stigma and social discrimination, making its treatment valuable.
What cause psoriasis?
Genetic predisposition is known to cause the disease, although which gene can actually be considered the trigger remains unclear. The underlying pathology in psoriasis is the abnormal activity of the immune system in response to the presence of the known triggers of the condition. These triggers may be stress, certain medications, infection and hereditary predisposition. These triggers may directly or indirectly cause the disease, while some may only produce some flare ups of the symptoms. There are different types of psoriasis with difference in its appearance and the area affected. Psoriasis may affect various areas of the body, but the most common body areas involved are the elbow, neck, knees and scalp.
Symptoms of psoriasis
Psoriasis may manifest different appearances in its symptoms. Here are some of the major appearances of the skin patches appearing in different types of psoriasis:
- Inverse psoriasis skin folds along the groin, underarms, buttocks and navel.
- Psoriasis vulgaris plaque formation along the skin
- Guttate psoriasis drop-like patches of skin that are small enough to look like spots
- Pustular psoriasis small blister formation with pus
- Palmoplantar psoriasis patches of dry,scaly skin appear on the palms of the hands and the feet
- Scalp psoriasis looks like a flaky dandruffs accompanied by redness on the scalp.
A physical examination is the initial process that your doctor will perform. Because psoriasis can easily mimic the appearance of an eczema and other types of skin disease, it is crucial to make a differential diagnosis to eliminate other conditions. This is important in identifying the proper treatment for psoriasis that will relieve the symptoms and halt the disease progression. Certain tests are usually requested to be performed to ensure making an accurate diagnosis and to rule out other possible skin diseases present. Among the diagnostic procedure involved are the following:
- Skin biopsy
- Medical history
- Laboratory testing
- Physical assessment of symptoms (swollen fingers or toes, reduced range of motion, fatigue, tenderness, swelling, painful tendons, morning stiffness, and red, itchy, scaly patches).
Most of the time, the x-ray is used to rule out arthritis because some of the symptoms of the two diseases may be overlapping, such as tender tendons, inflamed joints and swelling.
Treatment options for psoriasis
There are different types of psoriasis, but the treatment approach is usually similar. The treatment goals of psoriasis vary as it depends upon the patient's needs and according to the extent of the severity of their symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for psoriasis. Treatment usually focuses on relieving the symptoms and improving the quality of life of those affected. There is a significant progress in terms of the medical research that attempt to identify the major cause of the disease in order to find the most appropriate treatment regimen that will cure psoriasis.
Primary care or treatment for psoriasis is to prevent its progression
Because there is no cure for psoriasis, flare ups may occur and the condition may become recurrent. Immediate treatment focuses on relieving the discomforts arising from its symptoms and to prevent the symptoms from progressing. Controlling the symptoms is more important than trying to cure the condition. Knowing the exacerbating factors that trigger the symptoms of psoriasis to flare up is likewise important.
Providing an immediate treatment for the symptoms of psoriasis is needed. This can help reduce the risks of complications while trying to ease the discomforts it brings to the affected individual. Topical therapy is commonly used in treating localized skin lesions. Common topical treatment includes corticosteroids, tazarotene, calciproteine and coal tar products. Emollients used to be given as a treatment for psoriasis, but are not rarely used because of its known side effects producing inflammation and skin irritation to the affected area. Generalized psoriasis, one affecting a larger part of the body, will often require oral medication to obtain relief. Other alternative forms of treatment include ultraviolet light therapy.
Natural sunlight exposure and UV light treatment
Tanning bed light treatment or a natural sunlight exposure is often considered as a treatment where the affected skin is exposed to the light, while the unaffected areas are covered for protection. The heat is introduced to the affected area as tolerated. Ultraviolet treatment belongs to this form of a therapy that is important in preventing flare ups of symptoms.
Natural home remedies against psoriasis
There are a number of natural ways of treating psoriasis. Keeping the skin against drying is an important step. Applying a moisturizer can help combat the symptoms of a dry, flaky skin and in keeping the skin supple to prevent plaque formation. Avoid scented soaps and personal hygiene products. They can trigger flare ups that can worsen the symptoms. Eat foods which nutritions are known to help combat the disease like nuts, cranberries, chocolates and soy. Applying olive oil along the affected skin surface can help lock in the moisture to relieve dryness and flaking. Give yourself a warm bath with some Epson salt, milk, olive or mineral oil can make a difference in relieving itchiness.