Ever noticed sudden red, scaly patches of skin on your body? It could be psoriasis. Read on to find out more about this disease.
Psoriasis is a disease that mainly affects the skin
of an individual. Occasionally, it may spread to the joints. This
condition is chronic in nature and keeps recurring from time to time.
In this disease, scaly, reddish patches appear onthe skin. This is a sign of inflammation.
These inflamed areas also experience excessive skin production.
Therefore, a silvery-white layer of skin develops over the red patches.
When it affects the joints, it can cause a form of arthritis.
Causes of Psoriasis
There is no single cause of psoriasis. The disease is believed to be
the result of a variety of interlinking factors. Psoriasis is generally
perceived to be due to genetic reasons. However, it may be aggravated
by external factors such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Stress also plays a role in enhancing the symptoms of psoriasis. The disease may be manifested on any part of the body, including areas like the scalp, elbows, joints of limbs, etc.
This disease strikes both males and females, on an equal basis. It can
affect people of all ages but is most likely to affect an individual
between fifteen and twenty five years of age. People affected between
these ages are also more likely to suffer frequent recurrences and have
a greater level ofinflammation.
Types of Psoriasis
Psoriasis can occur in a variety of forms as follows:
Plaque psoriasis: It is the most common form of psoriasis and
affects nearly ninety percent of the people afflicted with this
disease. In this form, the inflamed
areas are lightly covered with silvery skin. The entire inflamed
portion is also raised up slightly, giving it a plaque-like appearance.
Flexural psoriasis: In this type, the inflamed skin has a smooth
appearance. It is commonly observed in the folds of skin between the
thigh and groin, armpit area, under an overweight stomach etc. Due to
its location, the psoriasis tends to be aggravated by factors such as
sweat and friction. This also makes the area vulnerable to fungal
Guttate psoriasis: This type of psoriasis is characterised by numerous, tiny, oval shaped inflamed areas. These spots occupy large areas of the skin such as the chest, scalp, etc. This type of psoriasis is associated with a throat infection caused by streptococcus bacteria.
Pustular psoriasis: People afflicted with this form of psoriasis
typically have raised parts of red skin. These raised areas are filled
with a pus-like fluid which is non-infectious. The pustules may be
restricted to one particular area of the body i.e. localised or they
may be spread all over.
Psoriatic arthritis: This type of psoriasis causes inflammation
of the connective tissue in the joints. It usually affects the joints
of fingers, toes, knees, hips, and the spine. If it is in the fingers
or toes, these appendages tend to swell up and the condition is
referred to as dactylitis.
Erythrodermic psoriasis: This is an extremely advanced form of psoriasis. There is widespread inflammation of the skin and plaques cover almost every inch of the body. These plaques are itchy, swell up and cause and are extremely painful. This type of psoriasis may be deadly, since the plaques prevent the skin from regulating the body temperature.
Treatment for psoriasis is difficult because results for any
method vary greatly among people. Initially, a medicated cream
containing corticosteroids and vitamin D is applied to the affected
area. Corticosteroids reduceinflammation while vitamin D inhibits the growth of skin cells.
If the creams do not work, the next available treatment is phototherapy. The outer layer of the skin
can absorb ultraviolet light belonging to the 'B' spectrum i.e. UVB
light. Regular exposure to UVB light, over a period of several weeks,
is believed to cure psoriasis completely. This treatment is usually
carried out along with application of medicated creams.
For extremely resistant forms of the disease, specialised
medicines have been formulated, which are either injected or taken
orally. These medicines interfere with the immune system response
associated with psoriasis. However, these medicines are extremely toxic
and patients taking them must also undergo regular blood and liver function tests.
Patients suffering from this disease should not lose heart. Researchers
are constantly coming up with new medicines and treatment options. In
time, an actual cure for psoriasis will be found.