Psoriasis: Enduring And Managing An Over-Reactive Immune System
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition, which means it can flare up most unexpectedly.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition skin which results in itchiness and discomfort. Some visible signs could be inflammation, like raised plaques and scales on the skin. It is no secret that the skin condition can cause both physical and emotional distress. Psoriasis can make one very self-conscious, especially when in company. The first thing to remember, if you are a socially active person, is to take comfort because psoriasis is not contagious. Also, since there’s no cure for it, one has to learn to manage it and get the best treatment available to contain it. It’s common enough for psoriasis to rear its head during early adulthood (ages 15-25), but again, there is no hard and fast rule about this as the symptoms can show up differently for every person.
Medical research reveals that the immune system and genetics play a big role in the development of psoriasis, which could cause the skin condition to be passed onto the kids from their biological parents. If you have a family history of psoriasis, look for early triggers in your environment that could set it off. Some suggested steps to prevent further outbreaks are to avoid such triggers, live healthy and take good care of your skin.
It can be easy for a patient to confuse psoriasis with another skin condition–eczema. However, though both are skin conditions causing similar symptoms such as discoloured skin, a rash and itching, what differentiates psoriasis is that its plaques cause areas of thick skin covered in scales. Eczema causes a rash of dry and bumpy skin. It is also, typically, accompanied by more intense itching than psoriasis.
Types of Psoriasis
This autoimmune condition, which causes inflammation in your skin, can appear in several parts of the body including elbows and knees, face, inside the mouth, the scalp, finger and toe nails, lower back and genitals.
- Plaque psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris) - features thick areas of discoloured skin covered with scales or plaques on the trunk, knees, or elbows. Almost 80% to 90% of people are said to suffer from this type
- Inverse psoriasis - Appears in the folds of the skin, such as the genitals. Plaques are thin and have no scales
- Guttate psoriasis - This condition may occur after a strep throat
- Erythrodermic psoriasis - Much more severe, this type impacts on a large surface area. It results in major discoloration and shedding of the skin
- Sebopsoriasis - Typically affecting the face and scalp as bumps and plaques with a greasy, yellow scale
- Nail psoriasis - Discoloration, pitting in fingernails and toenails
- Psoriatic arthritis - This causes joint pain and swelling. Some skin inflammations can develop damage to the joints, which should be dealt with in the early stages to stem the further flaring up of the arthritis
Symptoms of psoriasis
Common symptoms of psoriasis are tiny bumps on the skin, which get bigger. These plaques appear to be discoloured and scaly. While the surface scales shed easily, the ones underneath are lumped together. The burgeoning rash creates lesions or a large area of skin damage. Symptoms of inflammation can range from mild to severe. One can also have itchiness, dry skin, pitted nails, and sometimes, joint pain.
Don’t scratch the plaque as the broken skin can lead to infection, which can be dangerous. Fever or severe pain and swelling indicate infection. You should contact your doctor immediately.
Causes and Triggers of Psoriasis
Though family history is likely to bring on psoriasis, the chief culprit is an over-reactive immune system, which brings about inflammation of the skin. Your immune system is conditioned to fight and destroy invasions from bacteria etc. to keep you healthy and it’s normal for new skin cells to replace old skin cells in about 30 days; however, an over-reactive immune system messes up this timeline by mistakenly attacking healthy skin cells and changing this growth to three to four days. This speeding up of skin cell growth, against the norm, creates scales and frequent skin shedding on top of skin plaques. Common triggers for a psoriasis outbreak are emotional stress, infection, skin injuries such as abrasions, and cuts, medications like lithium, high blood pressure and antimalarial drugs–and body temperature changes brought out by weather. Triggers for a flare-up can vary from person to person. Unchecked psoriasis can cause comorbidities like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, and depression.
Management and Treatment
Though there is no known cure for psoriasis yet, one has to manage it with the appropriate relief measures and treatment. Commonly used treatments to contain the condition are steroid creams, medication, such as anthralin, to slow skin cell production, Vitamin D3 ointment, and Vitamin A or retinol creams. Treatment will, however, always depend on the mildness or severity of the skin condition.
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