Psoriasis in an inflammatory disease that causes your skin cells to build up at a faster rate than normal.
This can cause scales to appear on your skin. These scales are usually whitish-silver in colour and they form red patches on your skin.
Without psoriasis, it takes your skin a month to complete its life cycle. Your skin cells are supposed to grow from the inner parts of your skin before they gradually rise to the surface and fall off. Psoriasis obstructs this process and allows skin cells to build up so fast, they are at the surface of your skin in a few days.
Because of this, skin cells are unable to fall off and they form red, dry and itchy patches on your skin.
What causes Psoriasis?
There are different factors that can trigger Psoriasis.
One major factor that causes this disease is genetics.
You can inherit genes that make you prone to the disease. If you have a family member that has this condition, you are at the risk of having it too. It is advisable you go see your doctor to be sure.
However, not everyone who has the genes gets it. Most times, only few people do.
2. Immune system
Psoriasis can also occur when your immune system malfunctions. It is an autoimmune condition that occurs when the white blood cells in your body attack your skin cells.
Normally, white blood cells are to fight against infections and bacteria in your system. When they attack your skin cells, your body begins to produce more skin cells which leads to a rapid buildup of skin cells and this in turn, causes psoriasis.
3. Environmental factors
There are also environmental factors that trigger psoriasis. They include: stress, side effects of certain medication, alcohol intake, skin injuries, infections, etc.
How do I know I have psoriasis?
Psoriasis takes shape in different forms depending on the individual and the type of psoriasis.
The scales can appear on any part of your body but usually, they appear on the elbow, knees, joints, hands, neck, face and feet.
If you have psoriasis, you will notice:
- Inflamed red patches on your skin
- Scales that are whitish-silver in colour
- Your skin will become dry, might crack open and bleed
- Skin patches will start to itch and give a burning sensation
- Your joints will become swollen and painful
If you notice any of this, you probably have psoriasis. Go see your doctor immediately.
Types of psoriasis
It is one thing to know you have psoriasis, it is another to know the kind of psoriasis you have. There are five different kinds of psoriasis. They include:
1. Plaque psoriasis
This is the most common of all types. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, up to 80 percent of the people suffering from psoriasis have the plaque psoriasis.
If you have the plaque psoriasis, you will experience red and inflamed patches covered in whitish-silver scales on on your skin, especially on your elbow, scalp and knees.
2. Inverse psoriasis
Though this has the usual symptoms; red and inflamed skin, it appears under your breasts, or armpits, around your genitals and in your groin. It’s main targets are skinfolds on your body.
3. Pustular psoriasis
With this type of psoriasis, not only does your skin get red and inflamed, you might have white blisters filled with pus. It affects the hands and feet and is mostly common in adults.
4. Guttate psoriasis
This is common among children. It causes pink spots which usually aren’t thick or swollen to appear on the skin, especially on the arm, torso and legs.
It can be triggered by infections, skin injuries, certain medications and so on.
5. Erythrodermic psoriasis
This type is rare and the symptoms are extreme. It covers large and multiple areas of the body. It also makes your skin look sunburned. If you have this, you might become really sick and it is advised you visit your doctor immediately you notice the symptoms.
How can I treat psoriasis?
Here is the good part. There are different treatments for psoriasis. They include:
1. Topical medications (ointments and creams)
Psoriasis is usually treated by using topical medications. They reduce the symptoms and the risk of inflammation. They also slow down the production of skin cells and remove skin cells that are dead.
2. Light therapy
Light therapy involves exposing your skin to artificial or natural sunlight which will reduce inflammation and scaling. The ultra violet rays destroy the white blood cells that are fighting against the skin cells, thereby reducing the excess production of skin cells.
These medication suppress the abnormal behaviour of your nervous system which prevents further buildup of skin cells.
It is however important that you get a doctor’s prescription before using them.
There are some lifestyle changes you need to make. They include:
4. Reduce your stress levels
Stress is one of the factors that trigger psoriasis. So, you need to stay away from any activity that will stress you out. This will help to prevent flare ups and reduce symptoms.
You can reduce stress by meditating, doing breathing exercises, engaging in yoga, reading etc.
5. Change your diet
There are foods that can trigger psoriasis. Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease and there foods that can cause inflammation.
You should avoid eating processed foods, red meat, dairy products, sugary foods etc.
6. Begin to take vitamins
Vitamins help to boost your immune system. You can either take vitamin supplements or eat foods rich in vitamins. Before you take vitamins in pill form, talk to your doctor.
7. Stop drinking alcohol
When you take alcohol, you increase the risk of having a flare-up. It is important that you completely stop taking alcohol. It will only worsen the symptoms.
There is really no cure for psoriasis but it can be contained. Immediately you notice symptoms, go see your doctor so you can be diagnosed. After diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe medications based on the type of psoriasis you have.
While you take the medications, make the necessary lifestyle changes. Also, stay away from anything that might trigger a flare-up or worsen the symptoms.
There is really no need to worry. With the proper treatments in place, you will be just fine!