THE PSORIASIS CRISIS

drkmh THE PSORIASIS CRISIS

 

Psoriasis is not infectious and it does not affect normal functioning. It is important to create awareness on Psoriasis, do away with the social stigma attached to it and be more inclusive in our approach

When you find an itchy, scaly spot on your skin that over-the-counter antihistamine creams will not cure, it’s a sign you need to see the dermatologist. It can be one of many conditions and your doctor will be the best judge of it.

 

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease caused by the dysfunction of the immune system, resulting in inflammation on the body. To be more specific, the dysfunction causes excess build up of skin cells. Under normal circumstances the skin cells are replaced every 10 to 30 days, but for someone with Psoriasis new skin cells are produced every 3 to 4 days – this causes a build of dead cells in patches at different parts of the body. The patches, called Plaques, are usually itchy and appear reddish with a top layer of silvery-white dry dead cells. Scratching these areas worsens the itches and can even cause the skin to break and bleed. No matter how small the patch is, starting treatment is the only way to control the disease because there is no complete cure for Psoriasis.

 

WHO IS AT RISK?

 

Psoriasis affects individuals in early adulthood. It’s very rare to manifest in children. It is not an infectious condition, which means one cannot acquire the disease by mere contact with a person who has Psoriasis. However, it is believed to be a genetic disorder, which means it can be passed from one generation to the next. That being said, Psoriasis is known to completely skip a generation completely – the child of a person with psoriasis may not get the diseases, but his/her grandchild might. Since the actual cause for the disease is unknown, it is not possible to define who will get it next and why. The disease is an expression of an immune system dysfunction – and here again, what causes the dysfunction, is unclear.

 

PSORIASIS TRIGGERS

 

What the root cause of Psoriasis is remains a mystery. However, there are some external factors that might trigger an outbreak of the disease.

  • Other skin infections and skin rashes
  • Strep throat which is a bacterial infection that causes throat pain and inflammation
  • Bruises, cuts and scrapes
  • Severe sunburn
  • Medications for High Blood Pressure
  • Antimalarial drugs
  • Stress
  • Cold, dry weather conditions
  • Heavy smoking

 

SYMPTOMS OF PSORIASIS

 

Itchy, scaly red patches on the skin can indicate Psoriasis. These plaques may crack and bleed and in severe cases can grow and merge covering larger areas of the body. Another symptom to look out for is disorder of the nails such as pitting, discolouring or being extremely brittle. An itchy scalp with scaly plaques must not be ignored.

 

The most commonly affected areas are

 

  • The lower back
  • The elbows
  • The knees
  • The soles of the feet
  • The scalp
  • Face
  • Palms

 

A thorough physical exam is usually sufficient to help the doctor diagnose Psoriasis. In some cases a lab test might be required to confirm the diagnosis, which includes taking a small sample of the skin from the affected area.

 

PSORIASIS TYPES

 

  • PLAQUE PSORIASIS: This is the most common type of psoriasis where a number of dry, raised, reddish lesions of skin – mainly at the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp.
  • GUTTATE PSORIASIS: This is characterised by red, drop shaped lesions on the torso, arms or legs. It affects young adults and children and is often triggered by a bacterial infection.
  • PUSTULAR PSORIASIS: This is one of the rare forms of the disease. It causes the occurrence of small white pus-filled, painful bumps surrounded by reddened skin on the soles of the feet or palms of the hand. In even rarer cases, the pustules may present all over the body.
  • INVERSE PSORIASIS: Unlike in the other forms of Psoriasis this type does not present with scaly lesions. Instead it causes smooth patches of red skin primarily in skin folds at the groin, under the breasts, buttocks and the underarms. The itching and pain get worse with sweat and friction.
  • ERYTHRODERMIC PSORIASIS: This is the least common and most severe form of the condition and if not treated with urgency, it can prove fatal. Erythrodermic psoriasis affects the whole body, causing intense redness – painful and itchy. And when the scales sheds it does so in large layers of sheets. Changes in heart-rate, heightened body temperature, dehydration and nail disorders are other symptoms of Erythrodermic Psoriasis.

 

TREATMENT FOR PSORIASIS

 

There is no cure for Psoriasis. However, based on the type of Psoriasis it is, the areas affected and the extent of the inflammation, your doctor can help control the spread and manage the symptoms. Basic Psoriasis treatment starts with Steroid creams and Retinoid creams that can help reduce the inflammation and retard the growth and spread of the infection. However, Retinoid creams can have negative side-effects that your doctor will take into consideration depending on your age and overall health. Medicated moisturisers can keep your skin supple which helps ease itching and flaking – dry skin is a major trigger for Psoriasis. Creams rich in Vitamin D can help improve immunity. Light Therapy and other strong drugs are prescribed depending on the severity of the disease.

 

LIVING WITH PSORIASIS

 

Besides the obvious physical discomfort and pain caused by Psoriasis, the emotional discomfort is not to be taken lightly. Given that the disease causes visible damage, this can cause affected individuals to have low self-esteem leading to depression. Timely and effective treatment can help reduce the psoriasis flares, but it should not get in the way of a happy living. It is important that the affected person and his/her family understand that the disease is not infectious and that it does not affect normal functioning. It is important to create awareness on the disease, do away with the social stigma attached to it and be more inclusive in our approach.

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