Psoriasis is unpredictable, infuriating and among the most perplex skin disorders. It is a condition in which your skin cells start multiplying at a rate ten times faster than the normal one. When the underlying cells skin cells move towards the surface of the skin and die, they cause red plaques all over the skin due to their sheer volume.
About 7.5 million people are said to get affected by psoriasis in America. Not only does this disease harm the skin, it can also result in several other complications such as psoriatic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes type 2 and cardiovascular problems. Therefore, it is important to know the manifestations and diagnosis of psoriasis in order to deal with this irritating skin disease as fast as possible.
What Happens In Psoriasis
As mentioned before, psoriasis occurs when the skin production process is sped up. In a typical individual, it takes a month for the skin cells to grow in the skin, rise to the surface and fall off eventually.
In people with psoriasis, this process is sped up to a few days only. This means that the skin cells are not given enough time to fall off in a normal way. An overproduction of these cells occurs which causes the development of plaques in them.
Scales are usually seen in the body of such patients. The most common areas where they can be seen are elbows, joints and knees. Scales can also grow on other parts of the body such as neck, hands, scalp, feet and face.
Less commonly, psoriasis can also be seen attacking the mouth, nails and the area surrounding the genitals.
Causes Of Psoriasis
Scientists have categorized the reasons for psoriasis according to the two key factors- the immune system and the genetic makeup.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease in which the body starts attacking its own cells. In this disease, the white blood cells or the T cells present in your blood start harming the skin cells.
In a normal individual, white blood cells are designated to destroy all the bacteria that make their way into your body and to fight them before they start spreading infection. These cells mistakenly start targeting the normal skin cells leading to overdriving of their production. New skin cells are quickly generated and start piling up on the surface of the skin.
Plaques are formed that are normally surrounded by inflammation in this case.
The genetic makeup of a certain individual also makes him more vulnerable to developing psoriasis. If any one of your immediate family members is suffering from a skin disease, you are more prone to acquire psoriasis as well. However, only 2 to 3 percent of the people suffer from psoriasis due to genetic setup is quite less.
Is Psoriasis Transmissible?
Psoriasis is not generally contagious and the patient is unable to transmit this disease to the people surrounding him. Even if you come in direct contact with a psoriatic lesion, you will not acquire it.
Signs And Symptoms Of Psoriasis
The symptoms of this skin disorder can vary from person to person. However, the most commonly seen manifestations are mentioned below:
- Nails become thick and pitted
- Joints are swollen and become painful
- Raised red patches of skin are seen surrounded by inflammation
- Plaques, silver-white in colour, are present on the red patches.
- Soreness can be felt around the patches
- Skin might become dry and form cracks
- Burning and itching can be felt around the patches.
Treatment Options For Psoriasis
In general, psoriasis is untreatable. Medications can be prescribed to decrease the scales, slow down the growth cycle of skin cells and to reduce inflammation.
- Topical Treatments
Several ointments and creams are given to be applied on the infected area. These topical treatments may include the use of topical retinoids, topical corticosteroids, salicylic acid and vitamin D analogues.
- Systemic Treatments
Systemic treatments are given to people who have moderate to severe form of psoriasis and do not respond to the topical treatment. The commonly prescribed medicine groups are biologics, cyclosporine and retinoids.
- Light Therapy
This treatment regimen involves the use of ultraviolet light or even the natural light to stop overactive T cells in the body. Symptoms of psoriasis are said to be reduced using UVA and UVB light.