ABOUT THE DISEASE
Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder, which causes itchy thick red spots and flaky white patches resembling scales, on any part of the body, but mostly on the scalp, elbows, knees, lower back and genitals. It can even appear on fingernails.
- Red patches of scaly skin
- Dry, cracked or flaky skin - sometimes accompanied with bleeding
- Nail changes –pitted, cracked, thick or raised nails
- Scaly scalp
- Pus-filled blisters on the red patches of skin
- Joint pain
There are 5 different kind of psoriasis depending upon the kind of blisters or patches-Erythrodermic, Guttate, Inverse, Plaque and Pustular.
- Physical examination.
Psoriasis is considered to be an autoimmune disorder.
Although the immune system is supposed to protect the body against infection and disease, in this case, the T cells, a kind of white blood cells that are part of the immune system, mistakenly attack the skin cells instead. The body then starts producing skin cells rapidly, leading to swelling and accumulation of dead skin.
Psoriasis tends to run in families and it usually appears between 10 and 35 years of age.
It may get flared up due to some external conditions such as:
- Infections (such as strep throat and the common cold).
- Too much or too little sunlight.
- Certain medicines (such as beta-blockers for high blood pressure and drugs used to prevent malaria).
- Skin irritations.
- Cold weather.
- Smoking / too much alcohol.
- Dry air or dry skin.
The treatment is a combination of:
- Skin ointments- steroids, moisturizers, anthralin, coal tar, etc.
- Medicines –Retinoids, Methotrexate, Cyclosporin, Infliximab, Etanercept, etc.
- Phototherapy- PUVA therapy
While it will typically improve with treatment, it may not ever completely go away.
It generally takes 2 to 6 weeks for the affected areas of the skin to return to a more normal thickness, and the redness may take several months to improve.
Sometimes after a prolonged use of the same medicines, the disease might stop responding to that medicine and a change might be required.
You may also like to learn about: