Learn more about the symptoms and treatment of this chronic auto-immune disease.
Psoriasis is a chronic auto-immune disease that appears on the skin and in some cases, the inside of the mouth. Psoriasis typically appears in the form of red, inflamed, thick patches of skin that may itch and are often covered in silvery scales called plaques. These patches commonly appear on the scalp, face, elbows, knees, palms and soles of the feet but they can also appear on other areas of the body including the genitals.
Left untreated, patches of psoriasis surrounding the affected joints may begin to crack. In some patients, this can lead to a more serious condition called psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis is the most common auto-immune disease in the United States, affecting both adults and children. In 2019, there were more than 40 million people affected with psoriasis. Women and men appear to be affected equally. Psoriasis is often associated with other health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and depression. In most cases, there is a genetic link.
Due to the auto-immune nature of the disease, some patients may see a “flare” of symptoms, often associated with anxiety, stress or other illness. As with the size, shape and expanse of psoriasis patches on a person’s body, the severity of flare-ups will vary from person to person as well.
There are different types of psoriasis, so if you think you may be suffering from this chronic disease, consult with a qualified medical specialist immediately to determine your personalized course of treatment.
Learn the symptoms of the different types of psoriasis and how to identify yours.
Since psoriasis can often be confused with eczema or other skin diseases, it’s important to have any persistent rash examined by a qualified medical specialist. Skin samples may need to be examined under a microscope for definitive diagnosis.
There are several forms of psoriasis. These are the five most common.
Plaque Psoriasis: Most common type. Characterized by red skin lesions covered by silver scales.
Guttate: Second most common type. Typically begins in childhood. Characterized by small red separate spots that are not quite as thick as plaque psoriasis.
Inverse: These lesions appear in the folds of the skin including the groin, armpit and under the breast. These appear smooth and shiny and can be subject to irritation from rubbing and sweating.
Pustular: These lesions start out red, and then turn in to blisters filled with white pus that is not infectious or contagious.
Erythrodemic: The most serious form of psoriasis. If left untreated, it could be life threatening. These lesions are widespread and not clearly defined but characterized by redness, itching and pain.
What causes psoriasis ranges injuries and infections to genetic predisposition?
Psoriasis is a skin disorder involving the white blood cell (T cell). Normally used by the body to help protect from infection, in the case of psoriasis, T cells trigger by mistake causing a rapid inflammation of skin cells.
Each type of psoriasis will have a specific “trigger” or group of triggers that cause lesions to flare-up. Psoriasis has been linked to genetic factors but not one single cause has been determined.
Other common triggers, or causes, include: – Stress – Skin Injury: cut, sunburn, infection, vaccination – Medication: beta blockers, lithium, Inderal, quinidine – Strep Infection: usually associated with guttate psoriasis
Psoriasis treatment is best handled on an individualized basis.
There are different types of psoriasis lesions that require a personalized and specific treatment plan. Determining this plan should only be done by a qualified medical professional.
Common treatments you and your physician may explore, include:
- Oral medication: methotrexate, cyclosporine
- Topical medication: topical steroids creams or ointments such as clobetasol, fluocinonide, hydrocortisone
- Injection or intravenous drugs: Enbrel, Humira (by prescription)
Herbal or non-traditional psoriasis treatments
Some herbal and natural remedies have been known to ease the pain, itching and inflammation of certain types of psoriasis, but caution is strongly given about using any type of treatment before speaking with a medical professional.
Some common herbal and natural remedies for treating psoriasis, include:
- Aloe Vera
- Tea tree oil
It is not currently possible to prevent psoriasis.
There is no way to prevent psoriasis, but some patients are able to determine their personal triggers and help keep flare-ups at bay. This is best achieved by working on a personalized treatment plan with your doctor.
These organizations are best for supporting the needs of psoriasis patients.
American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) – aad.org
National Psoriasis Foundation – psoriasis.org