Have you ever noticed certain flakiness on the skin? Something that looks like dandruff or even very small snowflakes, scattered across your skin?
It isn’t harmful in any way but it becomes a huge source of discomfort and is a nuisance to live with.
We are talking about psoriasis.
It’s an autoimmune, skin condition which is common around the world. It’s most common symptom is you’ll notice red, itchy and scaly patches.
These are most commonly found on the knees, trunk and the scalp.
This blog post aims to provide you with a comprehensive outlook and detailed layout on what you need to know about psoriasis, treatment of psoriasis , how people with psoriasis can lead a good life and how person to person, the cases differ.
Good news is you can live a perfectly healthy and fulfilling life even with this skin condition.
Let’s get right into it:
What is Psoriasis?
It is a chronic skin condition. It has no known cure till date however it is very common among people from around the world.
What happens in this skin condition is that your skin cells multiply 10X faster than in normal circumstances.
This causes for your skin to look bumpy with red patches, which overtime become white scales.
Psoriasis isn’t hereditary, neither is it genetic. It cannot pass from one family member onto another. However according to recent case studies and WebMD , psoriasis tends to run in families however it can skip generations. Example a grandfather and his grandson can be affected but not the father.
One of its key characteristics is that it goes through cycles of severity. While a few months, it may flare up and become more red and noticeable, even causing immense scratching and bleeding in certain cases. During other times it will subside and go into remission.
We will now look into the underlying reasons why this skin condition happens:
What Causes Psoriasis?
Despite immense research and understanding, the underlying root cause as to why one person will get psoriasis and one wouldn’t, is still unclear.
However experts have pointed that it may be due to a combination of various factors.
One of the factors which can make you prone to getting it is if the immune system is not working properly. This causes high inflammation levels which triggers new skin cells to form within 3 to 4 days, whereas in normal conditions, new skin cells are replaced from 10 to 30 days.
Quite a difference right?
The high build-up of old cells as new ones are being made is what appears as silver scales. When the old cells are scrubbed off, your red and scaly skin will appear from underneath.
There are a few confirmed things which can trigger psoriasis in a person:
*Getting a cut or scrape which causes bleeding
*A surgery which is taking time to heal
* Uncontrollable emotional stress for long duration
*Taking heavy medications for conditions like blood pressure
What are Psoriasis Symptoms?
We have already talked about how your skin will appear red, flaky and even crusty in this skin condition. Other common symptoms you can experience:
- silver scales or plaques
- dry skin which cracks often
- there is soreness around the patches
- you will get burning sensation often around the patches
- painful and swollen joints
- thick and pitted nails
- patches may differ in size according to the area where they appear
You get a certain itch especially during winters when the skin becomes scalier and might even crack, causing bleeding.
The symptoms actually change according to the state and duration of the condition, which sometimes becomes hard to predict.
While sometimes the symptoms can be very mild, however during other times they are severe and this depends on the condition and state of your psoriasis.
The three states of psoriasis are:
- mild psoriasis – it covers less than 3% of the body
- moderate psoriasis- it covers 3–10% of the body
- severe psoriasis- it covers in excess of 10% of the body
Types of Psoriasis
From small patches to major eruptions, it can hit in various forms. Here’s a complete overview on what kinds of psoriasis you might get diagnosed with.
There are several types of psoriasis, including:
Plaque psoriasis– It is considered as the most common type. It causes dry and red patches as well as silvery scales. These patches sometimes become itchy and appear usually on the elbows, knees and scalp.
Nail psoriasis– As the name suggests, this affects mainly the fingernails and toenails. It causes for abnormal nail growth. Overtime you will also sense discoloration. Its major affect is that your nails will loosen and separate from the nail bed overtime. You will need to see a specialist if the nail crumbles.
Guttate psoriasis– This psoriasis is triggered by a bacterial infection. It is more common in children and younger adults. It looks like scaling lesions on the arms and legs. The patches may be of various sizes on different patients.
Inverse psoriasis– This kind of psoriasis is one which affects the skin folds of your groin, breasts and buttocks. It also causes patches of red skin. However these patches get worse when you are subjected to friction and sweating. Fungal infections, which remain untreated, cause inverse psoriasis.
Pustular psoriasis- It is a rare form of psoriasis which causes you to have pus-filled lesions which are spread across the patches. It is harder to manage as it takes place on the palms of your hand or in the soles of your feet.
Erythrodermic psoriasis– This is a rare kind which actually covers your whole body. It has a red, peeling rash which gets irritated often.
Psoriatic arthritis– This kind causes you to have swollen, painful joints, which is common with arthritis. At times you will only see nail changes but sometimes it can become severe and you will feel shooting pains in your joints. In this kind, you will feel stiffness. In certain cases, it also leads to permanent joint damage.
Now that we have a fair understanding of this skin condition, its stages, symptoms and types, let’s, move forward to getting a proper diagnosis to determine you are subjected to this condition.
Diagnosis of Psoriasis:
When it comes to determining and getting an expert’s affirmation that you do have psoriasis, you will need to get the following done:
Physical exam- if you have plaques and patches in the following areas, you will need to see a doctor for a complete examination:
- Belly button
They will look into the condition and determine your medical history to see if psoriasis is something that runs in the family.
Lab exam- In certain cases where it becomes hard to determine if you are indeed subjected to this condition, you will be required to get a biopsy done. This is where a small skin piece is removed and tested to make sure if it’s a skin infection or a chronic condition.
Complications with Psoriasis
There are certain complications and issues that can arise if you have this chronic condition. You are at a higher risk of developing the following health risks when your psoriasis is poorly managed and triggered by poor health and lifestyle choices. These are:
- Psoriatic arthritis- the swelling in the joints
- Eye medical conditions like conjunctivitis and uveitis
- Uncontrollable obesity
- Higher risk of Type 2 diabetes
- Higher risk of High blood pressure
- More prone to cardiovascular diseases
- Other autoimmune diseases, such as celiac disease, sclerosis
- Higher chance of developing mental health conditions, such as low self-esteem and depression
Getting complete knowledge on what is psoriasis and how it happens; you will now want to know if I get it- will I be able to get rid of it?
In one word: No
Unfortunately there is still no complete cure for this skin condition. However the good thing is – it is manageable and controllable.
Read on to know more:
Treatment Options for Psoriasis
Determine ways which will reduce inflammation and scales. Certain options also help in slowing the process of skin cells growth as well as removing plaque.
Let’s look into the top 3 treatment plans you should look into and consider:
Creams and Ointments
This topical treatment helps to reduce any mild to moderate psoriasis. Some of the effective options you can look out for which help combat the inflammation and irritation of psoriasis at bay are:
- topical corticosteroids
- topical retinoids
- vitamin D analogues
- salicylic acid
- herbal creams
These medicines are considered useful and effective in cases where patients aren’t responding well to the other two. It is usually used for severe cases of psoriasis and consists of oral and injected medication.
However they are also prone to side effects and are prescribed for shorter duration.
- cyclosporine (Sandimmune)
The last kind of treatment is one which makes use of ultraviolet light or natural light. Since the harsh and strong sunlight kill overactive white blood cells, it controls the overgrowth of skin cells.
It helps in controlling symptoms which are mild to moderate psoriasis.
Doctors look into your individual case and devise a treatment plan suited to your condition and symptoms. Sometimes you can opt for a combination of treatments to get the best results.
Most people with moderate to severe psoriasis will benefit from a combination of treatments. In certain cases, you may need to change treatments if your skin stops responding to a certain treatment.
The above were clinical and medical methods to adapt to make your psoriasis bearable even for large areas.
But there are things you can do within the comfort of your home.
We are talking about getting a better lifestyle with diet recommendations.
Let’s look into these:
Lifestyle Update with Psoriasis
Specialists have pointed this several times. Eating better doesn’t mean your skin condition will finish, but it will help reduce the symptoms even for scalp psoriasis.
Look into these lifestyle changes that will help you manage your psoriasis at home:
* Weight loss
Your condition will have severe symptoms if you are overweight. Losing those extra pounds will make the symptoms appear more manageable.
*Adapting a healthy, wholesome diet
It will serve you in endless ways. The first thing you should do is reduce your saturated fats intake. This comes in meats and dairy products. Replace this with more consumption of lean proteins which consist of omega 3 fatty acids. Also introduce more vegetables and organic beverages into your diet. You can learn about Keto diet and how it can be a helpful consumption plan for a while.
* Low-consumption of trigger foods
We know psoriasis causes inflammation. Avoid food items which leads to this, including:
*Subside alcohol consumption
This beverage triggers the symptoms of your condition, making them from mild to severe. It is best you avoid alcohol completely.
It is also advisable to increase your vitamin intake either by a vitamin-rich diet or taking supplements. Either way, you need to have plenty of adequate nutrients to keep your body energized and willing to take on any problems.
*Combat stressful situations
Facing stress may also trigger your symptoms because it make them worse. It is time to invest in things and thoughts that make you feel better. Enjoy a wholesome living and you will notice your psoriasis will become much more manageable.
Living with Psoriasis
Living with psoriasis isn’t easy. It is a skin condition which affects your daily routine heavily. But the good thing is that its not life threatening. It isn’t contagious and it is manageable.
You have many options at your disposal which allows you to live with psoriasis in a better way. Whether its medical treatments or lifestyle enhancements, you can keep your symptoms in control as it will allow them to remain mild and not become severe in many cases.
Understanding what triggers your symptoms and how you can combat certain complications allows a better lifestyle.
Make your choices to get better, to feel better and you will lead a wholesome life. We at Dr.Amal Al-Qedrah have a team of specialists who will share ways in which you can keep your condition manageable and in control. For more information and how to get your personal consultation session, contact the clinic to set up an appointment.