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Psoriasis Awareness

Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease that causes skin redness and irritation. It manifests as thick red skin with flaky white patches called scales.

TYPES

Plaque Psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris): This is the most common type. It appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells or scale which is itchy and painful. It can also bleed. It usually appears on the knees, elbows, lower back and scalp.

Guttate: This type usually starts from childhood or adulthood. Small, pink-red spots appear on the skin.

Pustular: It consists of white pustules (blisters of non-infectious pus) surrounded by red skin.

Inverse: It is also known as intertriginous psoriasis and shows up as very red lesions in body folds such as armpits, groin, and in between overlapping skin. It usually occurs with other types of psoriasis at the same time.

Erythrodermic: This is a rare type and is an inflammatory form of psoriasis. Skin redness covers most of the body surface.

CAUSES

It is believed to be an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissues. In psoriasis T cells becomes so active that they trigger other immune responses, which lead to inflammation and to rapid turnover of skin cells. Certain conditions that may trigger symptoms or make psoriasis difficult to treat include the following:

  • trauma to skin such as sunburn, scratch, infection or cut
  • beta blockers such as high blood pressure medications. Other medications include antimalarial drugs.

This skin condition can affect anyone at any age but it is believed to be genetic. People with compromised immune system that may be due to HIV, other autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis and people going through chemotherapy are at increased risk. People of the white race are more susceptible to psoriasis than others.

SYMPTOMS

The main symptoms of this disease is irritated, red, flaky patches of skin. Other common symptoms include skin being

  • itchy
  • scaly – dry and covered with silver, flaky skin
  • raised and thick
  • pinkish red in color

Victims may also experience

  • genital sores in males
  • severe dandruff
  • nail changes such as thick and discolored nails
  • achy joints

TEST AND DIAGNOSIS

Your health care professional can diagnose psoriasis just by looking at the skin. The doctor may then do a skin biopsy and look at a sample cell under the microscope to confirm his diagnosis.

TREATMENT

The goal of treatment is to control symptoms and prevent infections. Treatment options include:

Systemic treatment such as pills and injections to suppress the immune response. This is done if your condition is severe. Medications include

  • Methotrexate
  • Retinoids
  • Cyclosporine
  • Biologic response modifiers

Topical treatments such as skin ointments, lotions, creams and shampoos may be used. These include

  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Dandruff shampoos – over-the-counter or prescription
  • Prescription medicines containing vitamin D or vitamin A (retinoids)
  • Creams or ointments that contain coal tar or anthralin
  • Creams that remove scaling – usually salicylic acid or lactic acid
  • Moisturizers

Phototherapy, a procedure in which light is used to treat psoriasis. These are

  • Ultraviolet B (UVB) phototherapy
  • Psoralen and ultraviolet A phototherapy (PUVA) – It combines oral or topical administration of a medicine called psoralen with exposure to ultraviolet A (UVA) light