Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder that affects people of all ages. It has many types, and each type may have varying symptoms. Let us know what these symptoms are from the write-up below.
Our skin cells are produced deep in the skin. These cells gradually move up to the skin surface where they die and flake off because of our daily activities and environmental conditions. This makes room for newer skin cells that are being produced in the deeper layers. This whole process of skin cells forming, and flaking off from the surface takes about 28 days. According to experts, we shed about 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every hour. But what happens in psoriasis is, this very process occurs at a rate 10 times faster than normal. What should occur in 28 days, takes only 2-6 days. This causes a rapid buildup of dead skin cells on the surface and this is what triggers the unpleasant symptoms of psoriasis.
What Symptoms Indicate Psoriasis?
Psoriasis can affect any part of the body. As newer skin cells move up to the skin surface in days rather than weeks, dead skin cells continue to accumulate, and form itchy dry silvery-white scales on the skin. Accompanying these are bright red patches which are covered by these scales. Apart from these general symptoms of psoriasis, there are some more which depend upon the type of the condition.
# Psoriasis may affect nails causing them to thicken, become pitted or ridged. It may also trigger yellow discoloration of the nails and buildup of skin debris under the same. This is called nail psoriasis.
# When psoriasis affects the scalp, areas with silvery-white scales are noticeable. These areas are itchy and can leave your hair and shoulder with flakes of dead skin, when scratched. This is known as scalp psoriasis.
#Inverse psoriasis is marked by the development of smooth patches or lesions of red and inflamed skin. This type mostly attacks areas such as those of the armpits, under the breasts and around the genitals.
#Plaque psoriasis(the most common type) may affect any part of the body including elbows, lower back, knees, and scalp. Symptoms include inflamed skin lesions; red and dry, and covered with silver-colored scales. Itching and burning sensation are also common.
# When areas such as the trunk, upper arms, legs, thighs and scalp develop small spots that are pink and resemble water drops, it is most likely that the psoriasis type is guttate psoriasis. It is relatively uncommon, and it usually affects people under 30 or begins in childhood.
# A relatively rare type of psoriasis,pustular psoriasis is characterized by pus-filled blisters. These blisters may dry up within a day but tend to recur after a few days. Usually, hours before these blisters occur, the skin becomes red, tender and scaly. Although pustular psoriasis can affect any part of the body, smaller areas of hands and feet are where the blisters commonly form. This condition affects adults more than younger people.
# The rarest form of psoriasis that may occur in 1-2% of people is erythrodermic psoriasis. It is an inflammatory form of psoriasis, which although rare, may be serious. The entire body severely reddens and develops large white scales of skin. The body may severely itch and burn. Some people with this condition may also experience increased heart rate.
# About 30% of people who have psoriasis are considered susceptible to develop arthritis. The condition is called psoriatic arthritis. Apart from scaly and inflamed skin, its other main symptoms are swollen and painful joints. Although this condition can affect any joint of the body, joints at the end of the digits (fingers and toes) are mostly affected. Psoriatic arthritis may cause stiffness and joint damage, but not as severely as typical forms of arthritis.
Although there is no cure for psoriasis, there are several treatment options that help control its symptoms. Mild to moderate psoriasis can be treated with creams and ointments. Severe cases may be dealt with a combination of oral and topical drugs. Topical corticosteroids work to suppress the immune system and help in slowing down the production of the skin cells. The strength of such medicines depends on the affected area of the skin. For instance, for face and skin folds, low-potency ointment is prescribed.
Other medicines may include topical retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, coal tar, moisturizers, etc. In order to make the treatment more effective, patients may also be recommended to go for light therapy. This therapy exposes the skin to controlled amounts of natural sunlight. However, artificial ultraviolet lights are also used. Injections may also be used but for patients who do not respond to medicines.
At home, symptoms of psoriasis may be managed and controlled by taking daily baths using oatmeal, Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts. Using moisturizers also help as it keeps the skin from drying out. Short sunbath sessions and regular application of medicated creams and ointments speed up the healing process. Alcohol must be avoided as it interferes with the treatment. Also, it is advisable to cover the affected areas at night after applying ointment-based moisturizer. Cover the area with a plastic wrap overnight, and take a bath the next morning to wash away the scales.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.