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Psoriasis: Causes, Symptoms, Types & Treatment


What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that accelerates the rate at which your skin cells grow. You experience a greater than normal buildup of cells on the surface of your skin. The skin cells may multiply as fast as ten times their normal healthy rate.  These cells develop raised red scales and patches that cause itching and irritation. 

Most of the time, these patches appear on the elbows, scalp, arms, abdomen and lower back. Once you have psoriasis, it is very unlikely that you would be cured completely. It is a lifelong condition that comes and goes over the years. Although it is chronic, there are many remedial measures that you can take to reduce its impact.

What are the most common causes of Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder of the integumentary system. It is the most common immune-mediated disease in the US with a total of  over eight million individuals  affected yearly. Across the globe,  2 to 3 percent of the total population have psoriasis , according to the World Psoriasis Day consortium. So what is the mechanism that leads up to reddish-white scaly skin? What makes it such a common medical condition? Why can it not be cured?

Psoriasis may occur due to:

  • Hereditary changes
  • Certain lifestyle habits
  • Intake of certain drugs
  • Microbes
  • HIV
Causes Of Psoriasis
Causes Of Psoriasis

Genetics and Psoriasis

Psoriasis doesn’t particularly run in families but it does have a genetic component to it. This means that it is more common in some families. If a family member has the condition, it does make you more susceptible to it. The chief determinant is PSORS1  which contributes to as much as 50% of psoriasis heritability. It directly influences those genes that control immune and skin functions via the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) and skin proteins respectively.

The genetic basis of psoriasis is confirmed in identical twin studies. If one of the twins has the condition, the other twin has a 70% chance of developing it. Since it is not contagious, these findings validate its genetic susceptibility.

Certain Lifestyle Indicators

Human beings are influenced not only by their internal environments but also by their external habitats. Likewise, extreme changes in weather and climate can affect the intensity of psoriasis. Similarly, personal habits such as scratching the affected area can worsen the condition.

Moreover, obesity also aggravates the condition as it leads to hormonal disturbances within the body. Other habits that harm the state of your lesion are smoking, excess alcohol consumption and taking frequent hot baths.

It is useful for a psoriasis patient to explore the risk factors of this disease and adjust his lifestyle accordingly.

What Primal Living Or Primal Lifestyle is All About?

Intake of certain medications

We take medicine to fight against disease and live longer as a consequence. But all drugs have side effects. Sometimes, they make the immune system less efficient. Sometimes, they do the exact opposite, they make the immune system highly functional so much so that your body turns traitor.

Cells of your defense system target you, waging a war against your healthy cells or increasing the speed at which they grow. Such medications that have reportedly caused psoriasis are:

  • Captopril
  • Granulocyte-colony stimulating factors that are used in stem cell transplants
  • NSAIDs like Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen
  • Beta-blockers that are used for the treatment of congestive heart failure

Microbes And Psoriasis

Psoriasis occurs after some infectious diseases caused by tiny microbes. For example, it is a common complication of strep throat.

What are the key signs and symptoms of Psoriasis?

The hallmarks of psoriasis are listed below:

  • Large, red patches on the extremities and other exposed areas of the body
  • Silver plaques on the patches
  • Dry, sensitive skin that breaks easily
  • Irresistible desire to scratch the affected skin
  • Bleeding from the scratches
  • Tenderness around the patches
  • Thick nails
  • Soreness in the joints

These are the most common symptoms of psoriasis. Some people can have completely different symptoms because they have a milder form or different type of psoriasis. The manifestation of this follows a cyclic pattern.

The symptoms are intense and agonizing for some time (weeks or months), then the patient heals and stays healthy for some time. But the disease returns after a while. In this way, an affected individual goes through its episodes throughout his life.

How do doctors diagnose Psoriasis?

Psoriasis Diagnosis
Psoriasis Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects that you may have psoriasis, he doesn’t conduct a lengthy list of tests as for other infections such as ear infection  (otitis media) . There are three basic steps that most physicians follow to validate their diagnosis.

  • Taking the medical history of the patient
  • Performing a physical exam
  • Conducting a skin biopsy

What are the most popular treatment methods for Psoriasis?

As already mentioned, psoriasis doesn’t have a permanent cure. However, there are a great many steps that a patient can take to lessen his suffering. The main aim is to reduce inflammation on the skin and keep it moisturized. The three most common treatment strategies that are employed are discussed below:

  • Topical treatments
  • Phototherapy (light therapy)
  • Oral medications

Topical treatments

By topical treatment, we mean the use of medications that are, unlike oral medications, directly applied to the skin such as  ointments and oils . They are most effective for treating mild forms of the disease. These include the application of:

  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Anthralin
  • Vit D analogues
  • Salicylic acid
  • Moisturizers
  • Topical retinoids
  • Coal tar
  • Calcineurin inhibitors

Light therapy

An effective method to treat psoriasis is phototherapy or light therapy. It is based on the fact that exposure to ultraviolet light affects the biochemistry of the skin, helping with skin patches. Different lamps are available in the market such as  blue energy lamps . But it is better to undergo treatment in a clinical setting with the approval and supervision of a skin specialist. Different types of therapy methods are:

  • Natural sunlight
  • Ultraviolet light B (UVB)
  • Psoralen + UVA (PUVA)
  • Tanning beds
  • Laser treatments

Oral medications

Oral medication is prescribed when patients don’t respond to other treatment methods such as topical drugs. As a last resort, doctors turn to oral drugs and drugs that need to be injected into the patient’s circulation. Some of these drugs that are fruitful in the treatment of psoriasis are:

  • Methotrexate
  • Sandimmune
  • Retinoids but retinoids are discouraged in pregnant ladies (as they cause congenital abnormalities)
  • Cyclosporine
  • Tabloid

Bottom Line

Psoriasis is an auto-immune illness that affects almost  three percent of the world’s population . People who suffer from psoriasis experience a great deal of skin irritation and discomfort. Indeed, their pain can’t simply vanish but we can try to help them understand their condition better. For it is only after one has accepted his fate that he makes peace with it.

Our Related And Recommended Article: Pityriasis Rosea: Stages, Causes & Treatment

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