What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a disease of the skin. It causes dry red colored patches on the exposed layer of the skin due to proliferation of skin cells. These patches can be itchy and even painful. But, most importantly, they look ungainly. Since they can occur in any region of the skin, including the face, it can cause serious detriment to the person’s appearance and also cause them to have an inferiority complex.
A common misconception is that psoriasis is a contagious condition, while it is not. It is just a profusion of skin cells. It is not an infection.
Psoriasis is classified as a chronic disease that lasts a lifetime. A person might have mild and severe symptom episodes. At times, the psoriasis could also go into remission, i.e. the skin might be completely cleared of the affliction. However, it might recur later at the same or even different spots. Being chronic, psoriasis does not have a cure, but its symptoms can be reduced by using certain lifestyle measures.
What Are the Symptoms of Psoriasis?
The symptoms of psoriasis differ from one person to the other. However, the following symptoms are commonly observed:-
- Prominent red patches appear on the skin, which are raised above the level of the skin. They can be felt by touch.
- The boundary of these patches is lined by white or silvery flaky scales.
- In children, the instead of patches, tiny spots may be visible.
- The skin becomes dry and it can also bleed.
- The patches might itch or not.
- There is a typical kind of soreness or numbness in the area of the patch.
- There might also be pain or a burning sensation in the patch region.
- It is possible that the shape of the nails might also change. The nails could become thicker or have ridges on them.
- After prolonged psoriasis, it can lead to pain and stiffness in the skeletal joints. Such a condition is known as psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis patches can occur anywhere on the skin. They may be even present on exposed regions such as the face and limbs. Their sizes also differ. Some people might have them in spots, while some others might have huge patches on their skin.
What Causes Psoriasis?
The exact reason behind psoriasis is still not confirmed. In simple terms, it is a problem with the immune system of the body. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that help in fighting against infections in the body. They are called as the soldiers of the body. However, in people who have psoriasis, these lymphocytes proliferate and mistake healthy skin cells for infectious cells and they begin attacking them. Why the proliferation of the lymphocytes occurs is not known. This causes the healthy skin cells to rot and die, which is what forms the thick patches on the skin. The patches appear because the dead skin cells do not fall off the surface and the newer skin cells that grow under it push them upward forming the raised patch.
This process cannot be stopped because it is a disorder of the immune system of the body. That is the reason why there is no definitive treatment for psoriasis. However, some medication can retard the activity of the lymphocytes.
What Factors Could Worsen a Psoriasis Attack?
Psoriasis is a chronic condition. However, the chances of a flare-up can increase if the person is subjected to certain triggers. Here is a list of external and internal factors that can aggravate a psoriasis breakout.
- Certain kinds of infections of the throat and skin
- Excessive alcoholism
- Climatic factors such as extreme cold
- Mental issues such as stress and depression
- Damage to the skin due to cuts or insect bites or burns
- Certain antibiotics
What Must People with Psoriasis Keep Away from?
The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown but there are certain risk factors that might aggravate the condition. The following are some of these:-
- Stress is not a cause of psoriasis but it is known to aggravate the symptoms in a person with a chronic condition.
- Injuries should be prevented as much as possible. When skin gets injured, the lymphocytes increase their activity to repair the damaged area. This can cause a proliferation of cells on the skin.
- If you have psoriasis, make sure to mention it to your doctor before they make any kind of prescription. Several antibiotics are known to increase the symptoms of psoriasis. This includes arthritic medicines.
- Patients with psoriasis must make sure to maintain personal hygiene. Pathogens such as viruses and bacteria could aggravate the symptoms.
- People with psoriasis should keep control on their body mass. As body mass increases, the skin tends to bunch up. This causes deep recesses on certain parts of the skin, and this can prove to be breeding grounds for psoriasis patches. Keeping the body slimmer could reduce the number of patches on the skin.
- Cold temperatures aggravate psoriasis. Sufferers should keep away from temperatures that are drastically below the room temperature of their familiar surroundings.
- Both smoking and alcoholism can aggravate psoriasis in different ways. These should be minimized if they cannot be completely quit.
What Treatment Modes Are Available for Psoriasis?
Some changes that can be made in the lifestyle and living environment can take care of psoriasis symptoms and flare-ups. The following are some of the methods that work:-
- Use a dehumidifier in your living and working environment. This will take away the humidity and along with it infectious organisms such as viruses and bacteria that could act as psoriasis triggers.
- Having baths with Epsom salts in them is known to help.
- Modify your diet to comprise of more natural foodstuffs. Include more green foods with less oil and spices.
- Certain dietary supplements are known to help as well.
- You could ask your doctor for topical ointments that could help you with your symptoms. Certain specific medications are also known to help.