Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic immune-mediated disease that appears on the skin. It occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis is not contagious. There are five types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic. The most common form, plaque psoriasis, is commonly seen as red and white hues of scaly patches appearing on the top first layer of the epidermis (skin). Some patients, though, have no dermatological symptoms.

In plaque psoriasis, skin rapidly accumulates at these sites, which gives it a silvery-white appearance. Plaques frequently occur on the skin of the elbows and knees, but can affect any area, including the scalp, palms of hands and soles of feet, and genitals. In contrast to eczema, psoriasis is more likely to be found on the outer side of the joint.

The disorder is a chronic recurring condition that varies in severity from minor localized patches to complete body coverage. Fingernails and toenails are frequently affected (psoriatic nail dystrophy) and can be seen as an isolated symptom. Psoriasis can also cause inflammation of the joints, which is known as psoriatic arthritis. Between 10% and 40% of all people with psoriasis have psoriatic arthritis.

The cause of psoriasis is not fully understood, but it is believed to have a genetic component and local psoriatic changes can be triggered by an injury to the skin known as the Koebner phenomenon, see Koebnerisin. Various environmental factors have been suggested as aggravating to psoriasis, including stress, withdrawal of systemic corticosteroid, as well as other environmental factors, but few have shown statistical significance.There are many treatments available, but because of its chronic recurrent nature, psoriasis is a challenge to treat.

What causes psoriasis?

The exact cause remains unknown. There may be a combination of factors, including genetic predisposition and environmental factors. It is common for psoriasis to be found in members of the same family. The immune system is thought to play a major role. Despite research over the past 30 years looking at many triggers, the “master switch” that turns on psoriasis is still a mystery.

Psoriasis seems to be passed down through families. Doctors think it probably occurs when the body’s immune system mistakes healthy cells for dangerous substances. See also: Inflammatory response

Skin cells grow deep in the skin and normally rise to the surface about once a month. In persons with psoriasis, this process is too fast (about 2 weeks instead of 4 weeks) and dead skin cells build up on the skin’s surface.

The following may trigger an attack of psoriasis or make the condition more difficult to treat:

  • Bacteria or viral infections, including strep throat and upper respiratory infections
  • Dry air or dry skin
  • Injury to the skin, including cuts, burns, and insect bites
  • Some medicines, including antimalaria drugs, beta-blockers, and lithium
  • Stress
  • Too little sunlight
  • Too much sunlight (sunburn)
  • Too much alcohol

In general, psoriasis may be severe in people who have a weakened immune system. This may include persons who have:

  • AIDS
  • Autoimmune disorders (such as rheumatoid arthritis)
  •  Cancer chemotherapy

Up to one-third of people with psoriasis may also have arthritis, a condition known as psoriatic arthritis.

Symptoms

Psoriasis can appear suddenly or slowly. In many cases, psoriasis goes away and then flares up again repeatedly over time.

People with psoriasis have irritated patches of skin. The redness is most often seen on the elbows, knees, and trunk, but it can appear anywhere on the body. For example, there may be flaky patches on the scalp.

The skin patches or dots may be:

  • Itchy
  • Dry and covered with silver, flaky skin (scales)
  • Pink-red in color (like the color of salmon)
  • Raised and thick

Other symptoms may include:

  • Genital lesions in males
  • Joint pain or aching (psoriatic arthritis)
  • Nail changes, including nail thickening, yellow-brown spots, dents (pits) on the nail surface, and separation of the nail from the base
  • Severe dandruff on the scalp

Psoriasis may affect any or all parts of the skin. There are five main types of psoriasis:

  • Erythrodermic – The skin redness is very intense and covers a large area.
  • Guttate – Small, pink-red spots appear on the skin.
  • Inverse – Skin redness and irritation occurs in the armpits, groin, and in between overlapping skin.
  • Plaque – Thick, red patches of skin are covered by flaky, silver-white scales. This is the most common type of psoriasis.
  • Pustular – White blisters are surrounded by red, irritated skin.

Psoriasis treatment is best achieved by correcting immunity. Psoriasis cure has to be internal. Cortisone is not the best treatment for Psoriasis. Psoriasis returns and turns difficult after cortisone.