Psoriasis

What is it?

Often found on the knees and elbows, psoriasis is a skin condition that results in silvery scales and red flaky skin. Around 2% of Americans are affected by psoriasis at some point in their life. Psoriasis often affects individuals who are less than 35 and the severity of the condition varies greatly f case to case. Some people only experience a mild irritation whilst psoriasis has a severe impact on other’s lives. While psoriasis is a chronic disease, most sufferers will experience periods of severe irritation and followed by period where psoriasis symptoms are barely noticeable.

Psoriasis is the result of skin cells being produced too quickly, leading to a build-up of skin cells. This is due to T-cells accidently attacking healthy skin cells and thus encouraging more skins cells to be produced in the deepest layer of the skin. While it is not currently known why the T-cells attack healthy skin cells, it is currently theorised that this is due to environmental triggers or possibly genetics as in most cases those who have psoriasis have a relative who also suffers from it.

Symptoms

  • In most cases sufferers of psoriasis will notice red spots or patches which gradually increase is size and then develop a layer of silver scales. The larger scales on the top layer of the skin become itchy and fall off.
  • However, it is important to note the psoriasis is not just limited to the arms and legs. Indeed, psoriasis can appear on the scalp and even on nails. Nail psoriasis manifests itself in the discoloration and pitting of the nails.
  • In addition, psoriasis does not always first reveal itself as red flaky skin. Indeed, guttate psoriasis takes the form of red dots and is commonly found in children suffering from strepotoccal. In addition, there is a rare type of psoriasis called pustular psoriasis which is characterized by blister-like lesions.

Treatment

There is range of treatments available to treat psoriasis which can be broken down into three types of treatment: topical medicine, light therapy and oral/injected medicine.

In most cases, sufferers from psoriasis will be prescribed topical treatments to alleviate the symptoms. Moisturizers alone won’t heal the psoriasis, but they can help alleviate the itching and discomfort that accompanies it. For this reason moisturizers are often prescribed alongside other topical treatments such as corticosteroid creams of varying strength.

If you have severe psoriasis or psoriasis that has proved resistant to other types of treatment, you are likely to be prescribed drugs, either oral or injected, to help combat the condition. As these drugs tend to potentially detrimental side effects, they are usually only prescribed for a short amount of time.

Light therapy is a type of therapy that uses ultraviolet light, natural or artificial, to help treat psoriasis. Indeed, studies have revealed that short-term exposure to sunlight can help improve psoriasis as it can slow down skin cell turnover. However, it is important that you do not spend too much time in the sun as it could lead to worse symptoms and long term damage.