Psoriasis is a common chronic condition in which the skin is inflamed. The most common type of psoriasis has delineated patches that can be pink, red or gray in color and are covered with silvery, flaky skin. Signs & Symptoms of psoriasis may appear for the first time at any age, but this usually happens to young adults or at a later age around 50-60 years old. Both symptoms and types of Psoriasis can vary. Fortunately there are multiple ways to treat the skin disease, which makes it, in most cases, a disease you can live well with.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Wounds caused by psoriasis are biologically different from classic dry skin, also known as xerosis, and are classified as erythrosquamous, i.e. both the blood vessels and the deeper layers of the epidermis play a role. Lack of cell renewal is the cause of the so-called dry spots. These defects are caused by several factors: 1. Inflammatory reactions in the deeper layers of the dermis and the upper layers of the epidermis 2. An increased circulation rate of keratinocytes (the cell type that makes up most of the epidermis) 3. A change in the exfoliation process (exfoliation refers to the natural process of repulsion of the outer skin layer).
Types of Psoriasis
Plaque psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris) is with 80% the most common form of psoriasis. This form of psoriasis manifests itself in red injuries that are usually caused by an infection. They can also be covered with a layer of silver or white flaky skin. These injuries usually occur on the knees and elbows, scalp or lower back.
Guttate psoriasis is characterized by ‘droplet-shaped injuries’ consisting of small red spots appearing on the body or limbs. These spots are usually not swollen like plaque psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis can appear for the first time in early childhood or with young adults and it can appear suddenly. Inverse psoriasis looks like bright red injuries that are not rough but rather smooth and shiny. This form is mainly found in skin folds and in areas where the skin is softer, for example in the armpits and other skin folds, such as the groin or under the breasts or between the buttocks. These are also the areas that can become irritated by friction and/or transpiration.
Pustular psoriasis occurs mainly with adults and is characterized by white pus vesicles (which are not contagious because they consist of white blood cells). The skin around these vesicles can be red. Erythrodermal psoriasis is mainly an infection and therefore often affects most of the body’s surface. Extensive redness of the skin leads to flakes that are repelled in large slices and this form of psoriasis causes severe pain and discomfort.
Psoriatic arthritis symptoms vary. Every case is different, they commonly affect skin and joints. However, psoriasis symptoms appear first. In fact, one third of people with psoriasis may develop psoriatic arthritis later on. Symptoms like red, scaly patches could appear on any part of the body. However, some have few or no skin symptoms at all. Joint tenderness, swelling, and stiffness follow years after skin symptoms start. And over time, if left untreated, psoriatic arthritis can cause permanent joint damage.
Cause of Psoriasis
Studies show that most cases of psoriasis are likely to be hereditary given that psoriasis occurs in the families of affected persons. It is thought that certain hereditary genes play a role in psoriasis, but how exactly is still unclear.
Development of symptoms of psoriasis is often associated with infections. Bacteria, especially streptococcus, are most often identified as pathogens and related to guttate psoriasis. HIV infections are known to increase the risk of developing a more severe form of psoriasis if the person already has psoriasis.
Stress. Psychological stress can worsen the situation and, in some cases, be sufficient to trigger the symptoms.
Some medications, especially lithium, antimalarial drugs and beta-blockers, have a negative effect on psoriasis. The sudden interruption of treatment with strong applied or orally ingested corticosteroids is likely to cause withdrawal symptoms that can be severe and even lead to erythrodermic or even generalized pustular psoriasis.
Treatment For Psoriasis
The most common treatments for psoriasis are creams and lotions containing corticosteroids or keratolytic. Moisturizing products and emollients are used additionally and can provide relief during flare-ups. Emollientia serve to make the skin more flexible and to reduce superficial flaking. They are the most widely used products in dermatology. They work by forming a sealing layer that reduces water loss through evaporation from the skin, so that the top layer of skin, or the stratum corneum, is sufficiently hydrated. More advanced moisturizing products also contain active ingredients, such as glucoglycerol, which promotes hydration in the deeper layers of the epidermis.
When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to do your own research and/or visit a specialist in your area.