Psoriasis is a chronic skin problem that commonly appears as a white, red or silvery patch of skin. The skin normally flakes off every four weeks to be replaced by new skin cells as they grow on the outer layer of the skin. In psoriasis, however, the process of skin cell growth is more rapid and the outer layer of the skin sheds off more frequently resulting in the appearance of thick patches of skin called plaques. The plaques are greater in number along the elbows, hands, feet, lower back and the scalp. For most people suffering from psoriasis, the appearance is embarrassing. If you are suffering from psoriasis, finding the right management of your condition is essential and knowledge about the course of the disease will help you understand your condition better.
Psoriasis and its causes
Psoriasis affects both adults and children, but the condition commonly appears usually at the age of 35 with both men and women equally affected by it. It can appear in most parts of the body and small patches are more common than the bigger ones. In certain cases, these patches can produce discomforts by causing soreness and itchiness on the affected areas. The symptoms of every person afflicted with psoriasis usually vary. Some manifest mild symptoms while others can be severe. If your condition is causing significant difference on the quality of life you live, it is best to see your doctor.
Contrary to what people commonly believe, psoriasis is not a contagious disease. It is caused by an autoimmune deficiency where the body's immune system overreacts resulting in the production of the flaky patches and inflammation on the skin. The immune cells attack the healthy skin cells which alter its normal physiologic function of replacing the skin cells every three to seven days instead of the normal rate of three to four months. Climate change, the presence of infection, medications, dry skin conditions and stress are contributory factor to psoriasis. A physical assessment will help your dermatologist diagnose psoriasis, but it is often confirmed by medical tests. Genetics is another potential cause for psoriasis, but its role remains unclear, however.
The symptoms of psoriasis
The appearance of the skin patches and plaques can lower the self esteem of a person having them. Children, especially teenagers tend to avoid swimming in public and tend to socialize less. The symptoms usually appear differently in each person depending on the severity of the disease. Mild symptoms produce rashes while moderate to severe conditions manifest inflame, red areas and raised skin with a scaling appearance. It is often accompanied by itchiness and tenderness.
Others usually suffer tenderness of the joints when the symptoms appear on the elbows. In some cases it may appear throughout the back. Psoriatic arthritis tends to develop as well, which targets the joints in the body. In certain cases, it may also cause the toenails and fingernails separate from the nail bed and cause death of the tissues under the nails. Mild psoriasis may go away on its own without treatment with the risk of remission with chances of flare ups and recurrence later on.
How to manage psoriasis
Psoriasis management usually begins with self care which is effective in mild symptoms of psoriasis. There are various forms of treatments available for psoriasis, but a combination of treatment is often required in treating severe symptoms.
- Proper skin care regimen
Topical creams, lotions and baths can help keep the skin moist. Avoiding the exposure to the UV rays will also reduce the outbreaks of the skin plaques. When using skin products, it is essential to follow its application as directed. Look for ingredients or chemicals that may be contraindicated by your condition. Aloe vera can provide soothing comfort from your skin condition.
- Topical corticosteroids
Topical treatments are good options for relieving the discomforts caused by psoriasis. Topical corticosteroids in the form of creams and ointments can help soothe the itchy and inflamed skin patches. Alternatively, vitamin D treatment is also effective.
This is a form of treatment that uses ultraviolet light. The skin is exposed to the UV light in order to help facilitate the healing process of the skin patches and lessen the discomforts it brings.
- Systemic treatment
Systemic treatment includes the administration of injected medicine and oral medications in preventing the spread of the symptoms throughout the body.
Things to avoid
There are certain conditions that can aggravate the symptoms of psoriasis. It is important to avoid them in order to not to make treatment difficult for your condition.
1. Avoid stress and anxiety. They increase the flares of the symptoms, making the symptoms difficult to treat.
2. Avoid injuries to the skin such as wounding while trimming the nails. The plaques may spread to the wound area causing infection and difficult treatment process.
3. Make sure to avoid contracting a strep throat as they can trigger the symptoms of psoriasis to occur.
4. Avoid medications like NSAIDS and beta blockers as they can make the psoriasis symptoms worse.
5. Short periods of sun exposure may burn the affected skin and it can also cause the symptoms of psoriasis appear.
6. Avoid smoking and alcohol intake as they increases the risks of symptoms flare ups.
Must-have medical screenings for psoriasis
Psoriasis is a known risk factor for the development of other medical conditions like stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Getting medical screenings and check-up will give you the opportunity to prevent these conditions from occurring. Psoriatic arthritis screening, blood pressure monitoring, cholesterol test, and body mass index are important tests that you should take to keep a good watch on your health.
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