According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis is a common skin condition that affects more than 8 million people in the United States alone. Up to 40% of people with psoriasis develop it before the age of 16, while approximately 10% of people get it before the age of 10. Psoriasis causes an overgrowth of skin cells and can lead to all sorts of problems. Keep reading below to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of psoriasis.
First Thing’s First, What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis causes skin issues such as an itchy rash with thick, scaly patches that can be either red or white. Psoriasis is an autoimmune and long-term disease, and its signs can repeatedly worsen or get better over time. For instance, a person with psoriasis may experience a painful flare-up for a few weeks that subsides for a while, only to flare up again later on.
The patches or scales that form when a person has psoriasis result from an accelerated buildup of skin cells. The affected areas on the skin’s surfaces are also vulnerable to inflammation and redness. Depending on the severity of the condition, psoriasis can affect a few areas or larger areas of the body. It commonly occurs on the elbows and knees, but the scales can also develop on the hands, feet, neck, scalp, face, nails, and mouth.
Psoriasis first develops as small red bumps, which grow as scales form on the surfaces. Additional growth can lead to lesions and skin plaque or scales prone to bleeding when scratched.
What Causes or Triggers Psoriasis?
Regarding psoriasis causes, experts believe that the issue can be genetic or the result of a weakened immune system. If psoriasis runs in your family, you may be at risk, though the condition has been known to skip generations.
In addition, problems with your immune system can cause skin cells to be replaced at a faster rate than they shed. Psoriasis is diagnosed as an autoimmune condition because it’s believed to be an attack on healthy skin cells by the body’s white blood cells. That said, research is still underway to determine the exact causes of psoriasis.
Several external factors can trigger a flare-up in people who are predisposed to psoriasis. Common triggers include stress, bacterial infections, skin injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, or surgery incisions, the weather, smoking, alcohol consumption, immune disorders such as HIV, and certain medications.
Psoriasis Risk Factors and Complications
Psoriasis can affect anyone, male or female, at any age. Still, you’re more likely to show signs of psoriasis if you have a family history of the condition, smoke, or drink alcohol.
Having psoriasis also puts you at risk of developing other complications, such as psoriatic arthritis, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, eye conditions, such as conjunctivitis, and mental health conditions. Psoriasis has been linked to various mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Psoriasis
The signs and symptoms of psoriasis vary since there are different types of psoriasis. Active signs of psoriasis generally include the following:
- A rash with patches that can look like dandruff scales or lesions over different areas of the body
- Cracked and dry skin that’s prone to bleeding
- Skin patches that itch, burn, or are sore
- Nail disorders, such as discoloration or pitting
Not everyone with psoriasis experiences the same symptoms. There are several different types of psoriasis, and the scaly patches commonly associated with psoriasis can vary in color from red and brown to purple or whitish-silver, depending on the skin color.
What Are the Types of Psoriasis?
As mentioned, there are several psoriasis types, each with its signs and symptoms.
Plaque Psoriasis: This is one of the most common types of psoriasis. It’s characterized by skin plaque, areas of raised skin that are dry, itchy, inflamed, and covered in scales. The skin plaque commonly appears on the scalp, elbow, knees, and lower back and varies in color and amount of scaling.
Inverse Psoriasis: Unlike skin plaque, inverse psoriasis commonly appears in skin folds around the armpits, groin, and breasts. It’s more likely to be triggered by sweating or friction, and it causes patchy areas that are inflamed, smooth, and shiny.
Nail Psoriasis: As the name suggests, nail psoriasis affects the fingernails and toenails. Common signs of this type of condition include pitting, loose and crumbling nails, discoloration, and abnormal nail growth.
Pustular Psoriasis: Pustular psoriasis is one of the most common psoriasis types in adults. It’s characterized by small pustules that form on red and scaly skin and is typically localized to the hands and soles of the feet. The bumps or blisters can be filled with pus.
Erythrodermic Psoriasis: Erythrodermic psoriasis is one of the lesser common psoriasis types. It’s a severe type of psoriasis that can be life-threatening, causing fever and requiring immediate treatment. It can cover the entire body or large sections of your body in bright red scales that are shed off in sheets.
Guttate Psoriasis: Guttate is one of the most common psoriasis types in young adults and children. It causes small areas of red scaling, mainly on the arms, trunk, and legs. Common triggers of guttate psoriasis include tonsillitis, respiratory infections, skin injuries, or strep throat.
When Should You See a Doctor for Psoriasis Treatment?
You should see a doctor if you suspect that you may have the condition. This is especially true if the severity of the condition worsens and starts causing you discomfort, a pain or affects your self-esteem.
When you see a qualified healthcare provider, they will first perform a full physical exam to officially diagnose the condition. Your doctor will examine various areas of your body, such as the scalp, elbows, knees, nails, and feet. They will enquire about your family history of psoriasis, and if they suspect you may have the condition, they might do a biopsy. Both physical examinations and lab tests can be used to make a diagnosis.
If you have been diagnosed with psoriasis, your doctor will discuss tailored treatment solutions with you, depending on your age, overall health, and the severity and occurrence of the rash. Remember, there’s no cure for psoriasis, so treatments will aim to reduce the signs and symptoms you’re experiencing. Effective treatment for psoriasis can help manage inflammation and skin cell turnover. Generally, you have three main options regarding your psoriasis treatment plan.
- Topical treatments: You can apply creams and treatments to improve the condition of your skin. Topical treatments are usually prescribed for mild cases.
- Medications: Medications are often the best option if you have moderate to severe psoriasis. However, these might not be ideal long-term if the medication causes unpleasant side effects.
- Therapy: Psoriasis treatment can also involve light therapy using UV rays or immune therapy.
In addition, combining these treatment options with lifestyle changes, such as better stress management, healthy weight loss, and a balanced diet, can make a huge difference.
What Else Do You Need to Know About Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is not the same as eczema, though people can be affected by both conditions. Psoriasis is not contagious, so you can’t develop the condition by coming into contact with someone with psoriasis. If you have psoriasis, you’re more likely to receive a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. Signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include swollen, painful, and inflamed joints.
Schedule A Consultation with A Topline MD Alliance Affiliated Provider
Although there’s no cure for psoriasis, treatment can significantly improve your quality of life. You can find skilled and highly qualified doctors affiliated with the TopLine MD Alliance to help you manage even the most severe flare-ups. As mentioned, treating psoriasis can help you become happier and healthier.
Start your journey to effective treatment by enlisting the help of a TopLine MD affiliated provider. The Alliance is made up of trustworthy healthcare providers and dermatologists that can consistently deliver an exceptional standard of care. Find a TopLine MD affiliated provider today.
The TopLine MD Alliance is an association of independent physicians and medical practice groups who are committed to providing a higher standard of healthcare services. The members of the TopLine MD Alliance have no legal or financial relationship with one another. The TopLine MD Alliance brand has no formal corporate, financial or legal ties to any of the affiliated physicians or practice groups.