Psoriasis is a non-contagious but chronic, autoimmune skin disease that begins with mild outbreaks. It may result in severe life-threatening conditions, if not controlled in time. If at first you do not take the skin outbreaks seriously, with time, it will get worse.
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It can occur in people of all ages between 16 to 22-year-olds and its late-onset strikes people of ages 50 to 60.
What causes psoriasis?
Psoriasis may pass from generation to generation, but how it moves has not been known yet. The tendency to contract this skin condition remains stored in a person’s genes. Sudden exposure to certain stimuli like a streptococcal infection in the throat, alcohol, local irritation or skin damage may cause an outbreak of psoriasis. Even stress can trigger psoriasis.
There are two major types of psoriasis: psoriasis vulgaris (plaque psoriasis) and psoriasis pustulosa (pustular psoriasis). There are other types of psoriasis conditions that are further divided into subgroups, depending on severity, location on the body, duration, and appearance of lesions.
What are the symptoms of psoriasis vulgaris?
Psoriasis vulgaris is the most common type and following outbreaks are the first signs:
- the appearance of red spots or patches
- the patches growing bigger with the formation of a scaly pattern
- the upper scales fall off in large quantities, while the lower layers of scales are firmly fixed
- on scraping off the scales, you can see a number of small, bleeding points underneath the skin
- in psoriasis of nails, the outbreak can cause thickening or crumbling of nails
- Flexural psoriasis occurs in skin folds (flexures), causing red and itchy plaques in the armpits, on the stomach, under the breasts, on the buttocks or in the groin.
- Guttate psoriasis is one variant that majorly occurs in children and young people due to streptococcal infection of the throat. It forms drop-like, scaly patches on your body. In most cases, this condition disappears by itself after a few weeks or months.
What are the symptoms of pustular psoriasis?
- Pustular psoriasis is a rare type in which severe skin inflammation occurs along with blisters, pustules or lesions.
- It can affect one’s entire body or the palms of the hands, or soles of the feet. The condition of severity varies from person to person.
Who is most at risk?
If anyone of your family members has or had psoriasis, you’re likely to be at the risk. A sudden exposure to stress, alcoholism, medical treatment, or infections may result in outbreaks.
How is it diagnosed?
A careful examination of the skin is done for diagnosis. In case of a doubt, the doctor will take a small portion of the skin for specialist examination under a microscope.
What is the treatment?
Once psoriasis is diagnosed, the treatment is carried out locally on the affected areas. The treatment also varies depending on patient’s age, state of health and nature of psoriasis.
- Moisturizers are recommended to keep the skin hydrated and reduce dryness, scaling and cracking.
- For specific local treatments, doctors prescribe creams and ointments containing dithranol, coal tar, tazarotene (Zorac) or vitamin D-related compounds like calcipotriol (Dovonex), calcitriol (Silkis) or tacalcitol (Curatoderm).
- Special lotions containing salicylic acid, coal tar, sulphur or corticosteroids are prescribed for scalp treatment.
- Light therapy (ultraviolet B, UVB) or psoralent ultraviolet A are used in specialist dermatology centers for widespread psoriasis. Even natural sunlight may help certain patients.
- For oral treatment, immunosuppressants such as ciclosporin (Neoral) or methotrexate (eg Maxtrex) or the vitamin A derivatives are prescribed.