Plaque psoriasis is the most widespread type of psoriasis. It’s manifested by skin redness, scaling & thickness. Approximately four out of five persons with psoriasis suffer from plaque form of this ailment. According to statistical data, about 2-3 percent of the US population have it.
Causes & Triggering Factors
Plaque psoriasis is commonly considered a genetic autoimmune condition transmitted from generation to generation and manifested under the influence of a number of factors. However, the exact causes of the condition haven’t been clarified yet. It may also emerge in people who do not have hereditary predispositions.
The list of predisposing (triggering) factors of plaque psoriasis occurrence is quite wide. These are various kinds of acute and chronic infections (bacterial, viral, fungal), hidden foci of infection in the body (for example, chronic tonsillitis, sinusitis), chronic diseases of the digestive system, various intoxications (smoking, alcohol abuse, exposure to industrial chemicals), permanent mechanical, thermal or chemical effects on the skin and so on. That is, virtually any process that affects the metabolism of the body as a whole and the metabolism in the skin cells in particular can become a starting point in the development of the ailment.
In case of the ailment, there is a malfunction in the immune system, which causes new sells of the skin to grow too quickly, making dead cells agglomerate on skin area.
Symptoms of plaque psoriasis
Plaque psoriasis begins with the appearance of one or two pink patches on the skin. These patches are small in size (approximately 1-2 cm in diameter) . They are well-defined and raised above the skin, as well as covered with white scales. Depending on the course of the ailment, which may be mild or severe, the papules can slowly or rapidly expand and merge with each other, forming large lesions. They usually emerge on the scalp, back, elbows & knees. Most people with this type of the ailment suffer from pain or burning of the skin, especially if the lesions have formed on the scalp. Sometimes the patches crack and bleed.
It is recommended to see a healthcare professional as soon as the first symptoms of the ailment appear. He/she can give useful advice on how to prevent psoriasis development. In case of a mild form of the disease it will be sufficient to use non-prescription drugs. For controlling a severe form, you’ll need to use other treatments that are described below.
Usually, the dermatologist conducts a visual inspection to establish a diagnosis. However, an atypical form of psoriasis requires a biopsy (surgical removal of a small piece of skin followed by a microscope examination). Rarely, blood tests can be performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Psoriasis is an incurable condition characterized by periods of exacerbation and remission. Exacerbations can be caused by psychological stress or other factors. However, the manifestations of the disease may be reduced.
Plaque psoriasis treatment methods listed below can be used alone or as part of combined therapy.
I. Topical treatments. They are included in the first-line therapy of the disease, that is, they should be applied first. Topical treatments may contain steroids or be based on vitamins and natural components. In drug stores, you can find many non-prescription products such as hydrocortisone cream and tar-containing shampoos.
II. Phototherapy. Ultraviolet radiation is a very effective therapy. It should be conducted under the supervision of a doctor at healthcare provider’s office or at home if you have a special device.
III. Sunlight. Sunbathing can be very effective in eliminating the symptoms of the ailment. However, it is necessary to sunbathe moderately to avoid sunburns that will worsen the disease.
IV. Systemic medicines. These are medicines that are available by prescription. They provide systemic effect on the whole body. Systemic medicines used in plaque psoriasis therapy can be biologic & traditional. Biologic systemics are the newest remedies that are given by injections. They inhibit agents in the body that cause inflammatory and immune reactions. These are Cimzia, Enbrel , Humira and Remicade. Traditional systemic medications include Cyclosporine, Methotrexate (immunosuppressive remedies) and other drugs.