Psoriasis: Signs and Symptoms

Psoriasis is a skin condition in which skin cells grow at too rapid of a rate, and cause scaly formations to appear upon the skin's surface. Basically, the psoriasis patient has too efficient of an immune system, as skin cells form in a matter of a few day's time, rather than the normal time frame of a few weeks. The patient's body can not shed this large accumulation of skin cells quickly enough, and so the typical lesions of psoriasis form on the skin's surface.

There are five separate types of psoriasis, each with their own symptoms and signs. Of the five types, the most common type of psoriasis by far is the plaque type. About 80 percent of those afflicted by psoriasis have this type, which is also known as "psoriasis vulgaris."

Plaque psoriasis is known by thick, coarse patches of skin which are scaly in appearance. The plaques may be red, silver or white in color and can appear anywhere on the body.

Common locations for psoriasis plaques to appear are on the knees, lower region of the back, scalp and elbows of the sufferer.

If a psoriasis patient notices changes in the nails, it is very important to visit their physician. Changes in the finger or toenails such as ridges, a change in color to orange tinged with yellow or the nail itself pulling away from the nail bed can indicate the development of a serious condition known as psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis can lead to devastating changes in the joints with debilitating effects, so prompt treatment is a must.

Although psoriasis is unsightly, it is not contagious. There is no danger of contracting psoriasis from touching someone who has it, or from sharing a towel or a comb with them.

Much about psoriasis is still unknown, but it is believed to be an autoimmune disease caused by the T-cells (specialized white blood cells) that normally fight pathogens entering the body mistakenly turning on the body's own skin cells. After being attacked by the T-cells, the skin cells begin to form at an abnormally rapid rate.

It is as yet unknown, but it is speculated that psoriasis also has a genetic component, as it tends to run in families. However, not all persons who have the PSORS1 (SORE-ESS-1) gene go on to develop the disease; it appears that a certain combination of genes must be present in order for the abnormal reaction of the T-cells to occur.

Psoriasis may lie dormant until triggered by a significant event such as a highly-stressful life event such as divorce, loss of a spouse of parent, etc. Skin injury, or having an illness such as strep throat may also trigger the onset of psoriasis. Scientists can not even point to a universal trigger of the disease, as triggers vary among individuals.

Psoriasis is an equal opportunity disease in that it affects men and women at the same rate. Those of Caucasian ancestry are affected by the illness on a more frequent basis. It can begin at any age from very young to very aged; however, it is most commonly seen between ages fifteen to thirty, with the majority of all cases developing before age forty.

Psoriasis is a condition where some sufferers have frequent flareups, even weekly, but others only have occasional flareups. The condition is characterized by pain, extreme itchiness and even cracking and bleeding skin to the point that it even becomes difficult for the patient to sleep.

Those suffering from psoriasis often have embarrassment over the appearance of their skin, with accompanying depression. They may avoid social events, and become reclusive.

There is no need to suffer in silence with psoriasis. Working closely with a dermatologist can bring great improvements in the frequency and severity of flareups. Even simple measures such as bathing with Dead Sea salts can markedly help the condition, so do not delay treatment.