Possibly not a question you need to ask as there is such a high percentage of psoriasis sufferers within the global population that you have perhaps already come across this distressing skin condition within the circle of your family or friends. Over one hundred million people worldwide suffer from psoriasis according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.
What is Psoriasis?
Clearly, anything that affects personal appearance carries with it a whole cachet of emotional and psychological problems but psoriasis is not solely a cosmetic complaint, far from it.
Learn more about Psoriasis – the proper definition of Psoriasis and associated issues
Psoriasis may be described as a disease of the skin characterised by red, scaly patches or large spots. The blemishes occur because the normal pattern of skin behaviour – the lifecycle – is dramatically accelerated.
Skin cells accumulate on the skins’ outer surface creating visible areas which can be itchy sometimes even painful. Psoriasis can be as trivial as flecks or dots or as serious as extensive, blanket outbreaks over a large expanse of the body. If you have seen Psoriasis once, it is easy to recognise what it looks like again – it is pretty unmistakeable.
Are there any known or specific causes of Psoriasis?
If you have a close relative or parent with psoriasis then there is an increased chance you will experience Psoriasis yourself. If both parents have Psoriasis then the probability of developing Psoriasis for offspring weighs in at fifty per cent. But you could say that all diseases are to some extent genetic in their origin and therefore inherited.
Psoriasis is deemed to be an immune system fault in which the T cells –the protectors – in your body perceive there is imminent danger of attack and head off on the warpath. They should act in response to invading bacteria from a wound or a viral infection but instead, they mistakenly target healthy skin cells. In response, more cells are produced creating the trademark outbreaks so familiar to those afflicted by Psoriasis. A persistent and self-perpetuating cycle is thereby instigated usually only halted by interventions which come in one of a number of forms.
Genetic propensity apart, there are certain noted events which increase the likelihood of Psoriasis occurring. Infection is one and not necessarily a skin infection either: injury to the skin surface is another. Almost all available studies agree that lifestyle factors such as stress, drinking heavily and smoking play a part but these are factors considered causative of many other illnesses and ailments as well as Psoriasis.
Are there any other symptoms associated with Psoriasis other than its physical manifestation?
Psoriasis is a complex condition which is divided into different categories mostly revolving around the actual Psoriasis symptoms experienced by the particular patient. Classes of Psoriasis include:
- Plaque Psoriasis – as already described, areas of raised, red skin varying in size and shape and which can appear anywhere on the human body
- Guttate Psoriasis – diagnosed by teardrop-shaped lesions and often triggered by an initial bacterial infection
- Nail Psoriasis – normal nail growth is disrupted on the finger and toenails leading to discolouration, pitting, splitting and crumbling of the affected nail
- Inverse Psoriasis – found on parts of the body which may also be vulnerable to fungal infection and there is thought to be a link so, the groin, under the arms and beneath the breasts in women
- Pustular Psoriasis – rare and defined by blistering of the skin containing pus
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis – the rarest form of this disease, it produces an all over rash that burns and peels often covering the body in its entirety
In addition to skin problems, Psoriasis also has a connection with arthritis and a percentage of those with Psoriasis will go on to develop painful and swollen joints leading on to articular damage, stiffness and impaired movement.
Is there a cure for Psoriasis?
There is currently no cure for Psoriasis. Management of the condition centres on alleviating symptoms. Many people with Psoriasis experience long intervals where the disease lies dormant and they are not affected by any symptoms. It seems to go in waves or cycles. It is a chronic disease with acute phases or flare-ups. Understanding your own unique pinch points helps to manage the condition as does learning the best treatment options and what to use in your precise circumstances.
What are the treatment options currently available for Psoriasis?
There are myriad possibilities when it comes to the treatment of Psoriasis, as varied as you can imagine. Initially, you will need an actual diagnosis from a professional healthcare worker. This is usually performed by examination, clinical history and in some cases, a small skin biopsy where a sample of the cells is harvested for further examination.
There are conventional medical treatments such as corticosteroid based creams which you can utilise as treatment at home. These are applied topically to the skin with creams of varying intensity depending on the severity of the condition and other pre-existing medical issues. These allow for treatment in the privacy of the home environment and offer almost instant relief from irritation and itching.
Laser or light treatment using either UVA or UVB rays is perceived by many to be a more sustainable and natural treatment response to Psoriasis but UV light is not without its own risks and needs carefully controlled management to avoid damaging otherwise healthy areas of skin. Excimer laser involved a strong and directly targeted UVB beam of light which can focus only on the damaged portions of the skin. Many people just opt for natural sunlight or a tanning bed during the winter months.
A treatment via injection is a powerful, systemic option for use in severe cases and has a range of impacts including suppression of the immune system or the reduction of inflammation and skin cell production. It would be common practice to try alternative and more moderate treatments first.
Homoeopathic and supposed natural treatment remedies abound from porridge oats in bath water to the curry flavoured turmeric or the pungent coal tar applications which will make you smell rather like a freshly resurfaced road. Most people who struggle with Psoriasis will usually have tried all these options at some point.
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