The immune system is a critical part of the human boy. Some cells make up the immune system, which helps to protect the body against disease. This is done by fighting off invading pathogens, such as bacteria, that enter the body.
Sometimes, the immune system can attack healthy tissue. In this case, the immune system becomes the cause behind a disease – and not a specific pathogenic substance.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. This is an example of an immune-mediated disorder, where the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissue1. This post takes a closer look at psoriasis.
We consider what the condition is, look at treatment options for psoriasis patients, and more. We will also look at how psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are connected and how diet changes could help.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin-related disease. The condition is classified into a series of immune-mediated diseases. This means a dysfunction of the immune system causes psoriasis. When the immune system has a problem, in the case of psoriasis, in particular, it will attack the skin tissue.
The development of psoriasis has been linked to other conditions too. In many cases, these conditions tend to be severe and can lead to life-threatening complications in the patient.
Examples of diseases that have been linked to the presence of psoriasis include:
Initial signs of psoriasis are often considered mild and go unnoticed by patients. Topical treatments available without a prescription are most often used.
When these treatments fail to yield effective results, a person should ensure they see a doctor. Early diagnosis of psoriasis is critical to ensure the progression of the disease can be slowed.
Psoriasis is not as common as some of the other skin diseases that affect the human population. In the United Kingdom, an estimated 2% of the population suffers from psoriasis. The NHS2 released this data.
Over eight million people in the United States are estimated to suffer from psoriasis. When looking at worldwide statistics, it is estimated that up to 3% of the global population may be affected by this disease3.
What Are Psoriasis Symptoms?
Early diagnosis of this disease is critical. This helps to ensure treatment is more successful.
Recognizing the signs of psoriasis is the first step. Individuals need to realize what the symptoms of psoriasis are. This will ensure they take appropriate action should these symptoms show up.
For most people, a rash would be the most common symptoms of the disease. Certain parts of the body are more likely to be affected by psoriasis.
These are the areas where psoriasis is most likely to cause rashes:
It is important to note that psoriasis can still affect other parts of the body.
The skin will be raised in the area where the rash develops. There will also be redness that affects the entire region where the patient has a rash.
One thing commonly seen in psoriasis is the development of silver scales. These silver scales will cover the rash that has developed.
In some cases, accompanying symptoms may be present too. The area where the rash appears may also feel itchy. Some patients have reported a stinging or burning sensation in the area as well.
It is important to note that a rash does not immediately mean a person has psoriasis. Many other conditions can cause a rash to develop. When OTC medication does not work in a few days, a person should see a doctor. This will help them get a better view of the cause behind the rash.
Who Develops Psoriasis?
There is no specific cause yet identified behind psoriasis. Researchers are not exactly sure why some people develop the disease. Many studies have been conducted on the topic. Researchers have, however, made a few advancements.
It is known that two significant parts of the body play a role. These include:
- Immune system
Certain underlying factors related to psoriasis have been identified too. It was found that in patients with the disease, there is an increase in the rate at which the body replaces skin cells. While genetics play a role, there is a much stronger link made to the immune system.
Recently, it has become clear that people with psoriasis are more likely to have diabetes, high blood lipids, cardiovascular disease, and a variety of other inflammatory diseases.
Usually, the process of creating new skin cells can take anywhere from three to four weeks. In patients with psoriasis, new skin cells are generated much more frequently. Generally, the process of generating new skin cells takes three to seven days instead.
In the majority of cases, the diagnosis for psoriasis is made in the age range of 15 and 35. People in this age range seems to be at the highest risk for such a diagnosis.
Up to 15% of all cases related to psoriasis are made in children younger than ten years. It is quite rare to find an infant with psoriasis.
It has also been found that Caucasian individuals are more likely to develop psoriasis compared to African-Americans. There does not seem to be a difference in the prevalence between men and women.
Even though some people do seem to be more likely, anyone can still develop psoriasis. It is also important to note that the disease is not contagious at all.
One person with psoriasis cannot carry it over to another person. The lesions that psoriasis skin disease causes are also not considered to be infectious.
What Can Trigger Psoriasis?
In most cases, psoriasis tends to occur following a specific event. In people with mild psoriasis, the disease also sometimes progress in the presence of certain events or situations.
Individuals who might have already developed these rashes should be cautious of such triggers. Those with a diagnosed psoriasis disease should also steer clear of triggers. These triggers may cause a flare-up of their symptoms.
Some triggers that individuals do need to take into account include:
- Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- Too much stress.
- Changes in hormone balance – common in women who are going through menopause.
- Puberty might also be a possible trigger in some cases.
- The use of some pharmaceutical drugs, including ACE inhibitors and ibuprofen. Antimalarial drugs have also been shown to be a possible trigger.
- The presence of a throat infection can sometimes cause guttate psoriasis. This is the case with streptococcal throat infections.
- The presence of certain immune disorders may also act as a trigger for psoriasis. HIV is one particular immune disorder to be taken into consideration.
Apart from these, many people find that an injury directly to their skin also acts as a potential trigger.
Different types of skin-related injuries can trigger psoriasis. In these cases, the trigger will be referred to as a Koebner response. Some injuries may include a bite from an insect, sunburn, a scrape, or even just a cut in some situations.
The earlier a diagnosis for psoriasis is made, the better. This can help a doctor prescribe more effective treatments for the patient.
Early treatment also means less invasive procedures will be used to manage the disease. The process of diagnosing the disease starts with the patient realizing the signs and symptoms.
A physical examination is needed before a diagnosis can be made. A doctor will need to examine the rashes the patient has developed. The healthcare provider can recognize if the rashes look like psoriasis.
A medical history of the patient will be asked too. This will help the doctor determine if the patient is at high risk for this disease. The nails, scalp, and skin will be analyzed by the doctor.
In most cases, a doctor will be able to make a diagnosis with a physical examination. There are cases where a skin biopsy might be taken4. A local anesthetic agent is used in this case. The sample is sent to a laboratory. This helps to determine the specific type of psoriasis the patient has. Other diseases can also be ruled out with a skin biopsy.
Psoriasis is really a name that refers to seven conditions. They all fall under the same category, but each has certain unique characteristics.
Patients should know the difference between these types of psoriasis. This will help the individual know what to expect with their diagnosis.
Some types of psoriasis tend to be more common than others. Still, a thorough understanding of all types can be helpful.
The most common type of the disease is called plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis. In an estimated 80% of cases, the patient will be diagnosed with plaque psoriasis.
In some cases, this condition is also called psoriasis Vulgaris. Although controllable through medication, there is no cure for psoriasis.
Other types of psoriasis include5:
- Guttate psoriasis
- Pustular psoriasis
- Inverse psoriasis
- Erythrodermic psoriasis
- Nail psoriasis
The type of psoriasis a patient is diagnosed with helps the doctor understand what the best psoriasis treatment would be. When the palms and the soles are involved, this is known as palmoplantar psoriasis. In erythrodermic psoriasis, the entire skin surface is involved with the disease.
Where On The Body Does Psoriasis Appear?
As mentioned previously, several areas of the body can be affected by psoriasis. At the same time, there are certain parts more commonly targeted. The body parts affected also depend on the type of psoriasis a patient has developed.
In most cases, the knees, scalp, and elbows will be affected by the symptoms. Other common areas, depending on the psoriasis type, include:
- Lower back area
- Upper arms
There is a connection between psoriasis and arthritis that people need to be aware of too. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints. In some cases, a person with psoriasis may develop a condition called psoriatic arthritis6.
In most cases, psoriasis develops first. This includes rashes on the skin. The patient may develop psoriatic arthritis later on. There are, however, scenarios where the arthritis symptoms develop first. It is not a guarantee that a patient will develop psoriatic arthritis if they have been diagnosed with psoriasis.
The most common problems with psoriatic arthritis include swelling in the joints, as well as pain. A decrease in mobility will also likely develop.
What Are The Treatment Options?
Psoriasis is a chronic disease. It generally causes flare-ups in patients at certain times, which is when the rash and accompanying symptoms tend to get worse.
It is possible to manage the condition, however, effectively. Several treatments have been established to help individuals reduce the symptoms and the complications of psoriasis.
Treatment depends on how severe the condition is, ranging from moderate to severe psoriasis.
A mild case of psoriasis generally calls for topical therapies. In severe cases, however, combined therapies are needed to control and manage the disease. Individuals also need to learn how living with psoriasis work.
Some of the potential treatments that may be offered to people with psoriasis include:
- Topical corticosteroids help to reduce inflammation. These drugs can also reduce itching. Mild corticosteroid creams are generally preferred. When psoriasis seems tougher to treat, a stronger corticosteroid topical cream will be prescribed.
- Vitamin D analogs may sometimes be used to help reduce the rate at which skin cells grow. A prescription cream is used to deliver these vitamin D analogs to the patient’s skin.
- Another topical treatment includes Anthralin. The product is commonly sold under the brand name Dritho-Scalp. This product can sometimes irritate the individual’s skin. It can, however, be useful in cases of scalp psoriasis, for example.
Other topical treatments may include:
- Calcineurin inhibitors
- Topical retinoids
- Salicylic acid
- Coal tar
Light therapy is sometimes also used for the treatment of psoriasis. This treatment is often called phototherapy. Furthermore, there are also certain drugs taken by mouth or through an injection that may help. These can include:
- Biologic drugs
- TNF-alpha inhibitors
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Psoriasis is a condition that affects the skin. The presence of the disease causes red rashes to develop, which can become itchy and develop into other complications.
Psoriatic patients need to understand what the condition is and what may trigger flare-ups. A number of treatment options to treat psoriasis looked at these elements, as well as the treatments and diet modifications that can help.