Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that is the result of a rapid buildup of skin cells that do not turn over like normal cells, resulting in the cells piling up the on surface of the skin. Psoriasis causes red, raised, dry and cracked scaly patches, and even blisters, to form on the skin. In some cases, psoriasis affects the fingernails, causing yellowing and small depressions. Psoriasis can be mild, moderate or severe, and, in most cases, causes itching and burning in affected areas or skin.
Research shows psoriasis is the result of an autoimmune disorder and people who get psoriasis tend to have a blood relative who has psoriasis. Not everyone who inherits the genes for psoriasis will have psoriasis appear. Psoriasis is not contagious. Exposure to a trigger may be the inciting factor for psoriasis to show. Common triggers include stress,infection, injury to the skin, smoking, strep throat, winter weather, sunburn, some medications and alcohol consumption. Although there is no cure, there are several treatments available to effectively relieve symptoms. In the United States, more than seven million men, women and children have psoriasis.
Causes of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is caused by a mistaken activation of a type of white blood cell called a T cell (T lymphocyte cell). Although T cells usually travel through the body to fight off viruses and other foreign substances, in patients with psoriasis, they attack healthy skin cells. This causes an increased production of healthy skin cells, which then build up on the surface of the skin, causing scaling and patches. The symptoms of psoriasis can worsen as a result of certain triggers, including the following:
Types of Psoriasis
There are seven different types of psoriasis, each causing different symptoms. Some types are more common than others. Although patients usually have only one type of psoriasis at any given time, another type can appear once the first has cleared.
Diagnosis of Psoriasis is performed by examination of the skin, nails and scalp by a dermatologist. In some cases, a biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Psoriasis
Treatment for psoriasis focuses on clearing the skin of current symptoms. Treatments for the root cause of of psoriasis are intended to interrupt the abnormal cycle that has caused an increased production of skin cells. This can be achieved through injectable medications (biologics), topical treatment, oral medication, light therapies or a combination of the three.
Patients with psoriasis can help relieve symptoms by keeping the skin clean and moisturized, covering the affected areas while sleeping, and avoiding catalysts such as stress, smoking and alcohol. By adhering to a doctor’s treatment plan and following the recommended home remedies, effective relief from psoriasis is possible.