Psoriasis is a skin condition that triggers the formation of flaky, reddened, crusty patches of skin that are covered with silvery scales. It is important to note that these patches usually manifest on the knees, elbows, lower back and scalp but can develop in other parts of the body as well. In most individuals, they are only affected with small-sized patches. In some cases, though, the patches can become sore or itchy.
Psoriasis can start at any age but often develops among adults under 35 years old. The condition equally affects both men and women. The severity of the condition varies from one individual to another. In some, it is a minor irritation but can affect the quality of life in others drastically. As a long-lasting condition, it involves episodes when the individual is symptom-free or only mild symptoms and then followed by periods in which the symptoms are quite severe.
Why psoriasis develops
Individuals who have psoriasis have increased production of skin cells. It is important to note that the skin cells are usually produced and replaced every 3-4 weeks, but if the individual has psoriasis, the process only lasts for 3-7 days.
This result to the build-up of the skin cells which leads to the formation of patches linked with psoriasis. Even though the process is not fully understood, it might be linked to an issue with the immune system.
Psoriasis has the tendency to run in families but the distinct role of genetics is still vague. The symptoms typically begin or become worse due to a trigger. The potential triggers include skin injuries, certain medications and even throat infections. Remember that the condition is not contagious, thus it cannot spread from one individual to another.
The doctor can diagnose the condition based on the skin appearance. In uncommon cases, a skin sample or biopsy is analyzed in the laboratory to determine the exact type of psoriasis and rule out other skin issues.
The doctor might refer the individual to a dermatologist if uncertain about the diagnosis or if the condition is severe.
Even today, there is no known cure for psoriasis but a variety of treatment options can help improve the symptoms and appearance of the skin patches. In most circumstances, the initial treatment involves topical corticosteroids or vitamin D analogues that are applied to the skin. If these do not work or the condition is severe, phototherapy might be used which involves exposure of the skin to certain types of ultraviolet light.
In severe cases in which common treatments are not effective, systemic treatment might be used such as oral or injectable medications that cover the entire body.
Life with psoriasis
Even though psoriasis is a minor irritation in some individuals, it can have a big impact on the quality of life for those who have a severe case.
Some have low self-esteem due to the effect of the condition since it involves the skin appearance. In addition, it is also common to end up with pain, tenderness and swelling in the joints and connective tissues.