Psoriasis Instructional Tutorial Video
What Causes Psoriasis?
This genetically programmed inflammatory disease that primarily affects the skin afflicts about 3% of individuals in the United States and 1% to 3% of the UK population. Psoriasis is Not Contagious. It appears as red, raised scaly patches known as plaques. Any part of the skin surface may be involved, but the plaques most commonly appear on the elbows, knees and scalp. It can be itchy, but is not usually painful. Nail changes, including pitting and ridging, are present in 40% to 50% of people with psoriasis and 10% to 20% of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis is characterised by skin cells that multiply u
Psoriasis is not contagious. People used to believe that psoriasis was the same as leprosy, but that is not the case. You cannot get psoriasis by touching, kissing, or having sex with someone who has psoriasis. People get psoriasis because of their genes, not their hygiene, diet, lifestyle, or any other habits.
Types of Psoriasis
Although the commonest form features red, raised, scaly plaques, there are a number of types of psoriasis. These look different and may require specific treatment.
Remember, although psoriasis is a chronic condition it can be controlled and can go into remission, often temporarily and sometimes permanently. Not all people will be affected in the same way and doctors will class the condition as mild, moderate or severe.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis and it gets its name from the plaques that build up on the skin. There tend to be well-defined patches of red raised skin that can appear on any area of the skin, but the knees, elbows, scalp, trunk, and nails are the most common locations. There is also a flaky, white build up on top of the plaques, called scales. Possible plaque psoriasis symptoms include skin pain, itching, and cracking.
There are plenty of over-the-counter products that are effective in the treatment of plaque psoriasis. 1% hydrocortisone cream is a topical steroid that can suppress mild disease and preparations containing tar are effective in treating plaque psoriasis.
Scalp psoriasis is a common skin disorder that makes raised, reddish, often scaly patches. Scalp psoriasis can affect your whole scalp, or just pop up as one patch. This type of psoriasis can even spread to the forehead, the back of the neck, or behind the ears. Scalp psoriasis symptoms may include only slight, fine scaling. Moderate to severe scalp psoriasis symptoms may include dandruff-like flaking, dry scalp, and hair loss. Scalp psoriasis does not directly cause hair loss, but stress and excess scratching or picking of the scalp may result in hair loss.
Scalp psoriasis can be treated with medicated shampoos, creams, gels, oils, ointments, and soaps. Salicylic acid and coal tar are two medications in over-the-counter products that help treat scalp psoriasis. Steroid injections and phototherapy may help treat mild scalp psoriasis. Biologics are the latest class of medications that can also help treat severe scalp psoriasis.
Guttate psoriasis looks like small, pink dots or drops on the skin. The word guttate is from the Latin word gutta, meaning drop. There tends to be fine scales with guttate psoriasis that is finer than the scales in plaque psoriasis. Guttate psoriasis is typically triggered by streptococcal (strep throat) and the outbreak will usually occur two to three weeks after having strep throat.
Guttate psoriasis tends to go away after a few weeks without treatment. Moisturisers can be used to soften the skin. If there is a history of psoriasis, a doctor may take a throat culture to determine if strep throat is present. If the throat culture shows that streptococcal is present, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
The same treatment for skin psoriasis is beneficial for nail psoriasis. However, since nails grow slow, it may take a while for improvements to be evident. Nail psoriasis can be treated with phototherapy, systemic therapy (medications that spread throughout the body), and steroids (cream or injection). If medications do not improve the condition of nail psoriasis, a doctor may surgically remove the nail.
If you have the genetic basis of psoriasis, a trigger can cause psoriasis to flare up. The following are triggers that may set off one's psoriasis:
* Streptococcal (sore throat)
* Trauma to the skin(cut, scrape, bug bite, infection, sunburn)
* Certain drugs (lithium, high blood pressure and heart medications, beta blockers, antimalarial, indomethacin)
Although psoriatic plaques can be limited to only a few small areas, the condition can involve widespread areas of skin anywhere on the body. Psoriasis symptoms vary depending on the type of psoriasis you have. Common psoriasis symptoms can include the following:
* Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
* Small scaling spots
* Dry, cracked skin
* Itching, burning, or soreness
* Itchy plaques
* Small bleeding points when the scale is peeled away
Psoriasis is often diagnosed or at least suspected on the basis of its appearance and distribution. However, psoriasis may resemble eczema or other skin diseases and further tests may be required. It may be necessary to remove a small piece of skin (a biopsy) and have it examined by a pathologist to confirm the diagnosis. If there are joint symptoms, X-rays and other laboratory tests may be in order. Psoriasis cannot be cured, but like many other medical conditions, it is controllable with treatment. Your doctor may have you seen by a consultant such as a dermatologist, rheumatologist or immunologist to help diagnose and treat your form of psoriasis.