Psoriasis is a common skin disorder, which is manifested by reddish flaky inflamed lesions affecting any part of the body, most commonly knees, scalp, elbows & lower back. Most patents complain of having small zones of damaged skin. Their itching and soreness can be felt in some cases.
About 2% of the British suffer from this disease. The most vulnerable category is under 35-year-olds, though psoriasis may affect people of different ages irrespective of their sex.
This skin disorder can have different degrees of severity from causing slight irritation to affecting entirely the life quality. There are different types of it, for example: scalp psoriasis, nail psoriasis, plaque psoriasis and others. But the treatment doesn’t depend on the certain type, it depends on the complexity of the disease.
Being a chronic disease, it has a cyclical nature with the exacerbation phase, characterized by tangible manifestations of symptoms, alternating the remission phase, when the symptoms get milder or are not felt at all.
What causes psoriasis?
The disease is characterized by skin cells overproduction. In psoriasis, cellular renewal process, which typically lasts 3-4 weeks, significantly decreases to 3-7 days. It leads to skin cells build-up appearing on the body forming psoriasis-associated patches.
Medical professionals haven’t succeeded in substantiating the disease cause yet. However, they tend to relate it to the immune system disorder. In normal health conditions, the immune system serves as human body protector against infections & diseases, but in psoriasis, it starts attacking skin cells. Therefore, this disease is classified as an autoimmune one.
Sometimes, psoriasis affects several generations of one family, though positive family history hasn’t been proved yet. Medical experts are unanimous in emphasizing the trigger of the disease, which can be a skin injury, a throat infection, or a negative effect of taking certain drugs. Fortunately, healthy people don’t have to be afraid of being infected by psoriasis-affected family members or acquaintances as the disease is not contagious.
How to diagnose?
After examining a patient’s skin a general practitioner can diagnose psoriasis. In some instances, laboratory test – biopsy – will be needed to confirm the condition. In addition, a microscope-based examination will help to identify the type of disease and exclude skin disorders with similar symptoms (lichen simplex, lichen planus, pityriasis rosea, and seborrhoeic dermatitis).
If your health condition is severe, or if your general practitioner is not certain about the diagnosis, he may refer you to a specialized doctor – a dermatologist.
In case your general practitioner suspects that you have a complication in the form of psoriatic arthritis, he will draw up a referral to a rheumatologist. To rule out rheumatoid arthritis or other similar conditions patients are asked to have their blood tested, ad their joints X-rayed.
How can be treated?
There isn’t any specific remedy for psoriasis because of its autoimmune nature. However, certain treatments can significantly reduce its symptoms and improve the overall health state.
The most common treatment applied for psoriasis includes topical medications, namely analogues of vitamin D and topical corticosteroids in ointment and cream forms.
In some cases a treatment plan can be supplemented with phototherapy involving applying ultraviolet light to the affected skin areas. Applying injected or oral systemic medications influencing the entire body can be prescribed to patients with complicated forms of psoriasis or if other remedies appeared to be ineffective.
How to live with psoriasis?
The effect of the disease on people’s life quality depends on its severity. Psoriatic arthritis can cause certain discomfort because of painful swelling joints or connective tissue. As the disease affects patients’ appearance, their self-esteem may decrease. Therefore, learning to live with psoriasis is crucially important for patients who have to control the disease jointly with their doctors.