Psoriasis : Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Psoriasis is a common autoimmune skin disease that builds up skin cell rapidly on the surface of the skin. The overgrowth of the skin cells causes red, flaky, and scaly patches that are itchy and sometimes cause pain. Patches can appear anywhere on the skin but usually appears on scalp face, palms, and joints such as elbows and knees. It affects both genders and mostly appears between the age group of 15 to 35 years. Plaque psoriasis, the most common form of it, causes itchy and dry patches on the skin.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
The most common symptoms include:
- Itching, burning sensation, and soreness start appearing around the skin patches
- Dry and cracked skin that can bleed
- Redness and inflammation on the skin patches
- Small, round, and scaly spots (commonly appear in children)
- Rashes or red patches covered with loose, whitish or silvery scales (plaques)
- Discoloration and pitting on fingernails and toenails.
- Stiffness and swollen joints
- Scaly plaques appear on the scalp
Causes of Psoriasis
The exact cause is not clear, but the factors that cause it include:
- Immune system: The immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy skin in the body and produces an excess amount of oil glands or skin cells that cause redness and inflammation on the skin.
- Genetics: If any of the family members have a history of psoriasis, then there will be more chances of developing this disease in their children.
- Infections: Children and adults with bacterial or viral infections are more likely to develop psoriasis.
Psoriasis may increase the risk of developing serious complications which include psoriatic arthritis, skin cancer, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, ears and eye disease, and metabolic syndrome (diabetes, obesity).
The different methods to diagnose it include:
- Physical examination: Physician or skin specialist diagnose psoriasis by asking about family history of the patient and inspecting the skin, nails, and scalp.
- Skin Biopsy: Skin piece is examined under the microscope to detect the type.
The person suffering from psoriasis should follow the complete instructions of a doctor. Following methods can prevent psoriasis:
- Keep the skin moisturized with lotions or creams
- Wash scalp properly by using shampoos
- Use humidifiers at home
- Avoid sunburn
- Reduces stress by doing yoga or meditation
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, and tobacco
- Prevent skin injury
Treatment of Psoriasis
Currently, no cure is available for the treatment, but treatment options exist that ease its symptoms. Following are the available treatment options:
- Topical treatment: Corticosteroids and calcipotriene used to treat the mild to moderate psoriasis, vitamin D and anthralin help to slow skin cell growth, and topical retinoids (vitamin A) are used to decrease inflammation of the skin.
- Light therapy: In this therapy, affected skin exposed to natural or artificial ultraviolet (UV) light to slow the skin cell growth and reduces inflammation and scaling. Other forms of phototherapy include sunlight, UVB, Narrowband UVB, Goeckerman therapy, psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA), and excimer laser which are used to treat psoriasis
- Oral or injected medications: This is recommended only for severe psoriasis or resistant to other medicines. Drugs like Methotrexate and cyclosporine used to treat severe psoriasis by decreasing the production of skin cells and reduce inflammation. Drugs that alter the immune system are Infliximab, adalimumab, golimumab.
- Alternative therapies: Therapies that reduce the itching, inflammation, redness, and scaling are aloe vera, fish oil, oregon grape, and special food diets such as almonds and walnuts, fatty fish, green vegetables, and pumpkin seeds.