What is Psoriasis and What Does it Look Like?

 Psoriasis  is a persistent autoimmune skin disease which is not contagious.  Psoriasis  affects both the skin and the joints of the individual who is affected by the disease.  Psoriasis  normally causes the skin of the individual to become red and scaly. Normally, these outbreaks are only in patches. These patches caused by  psoriasis  are called psoriatic plaques. Psoriatic plaques are patches of skin where the skin has become inflamed and there has been an excessive amount of skin production. The skin produced by the body accumulates at these patches and has a white appearance. The patches occur commonly on the skin around elbows and knees. However, many individuals also report outbreaks on their scalp and their genital region.  Psoriasis  is different from eczema in the aspect that it is more likely to be located on the extensor point of the joint.

 Psoriasis  is a persistent condition, but the severity of  psoriasis  can vary from each individual. Some individuals report mild  psoriasis  with just a few small patches, while others report severe cases of  psoriasis  where their whole body or most of their body is affected by the skin disease. The exact cause of  psoriasis  is unknown. The common belief behind the origin of  psoriasis  is that the skin disease is a genetic disease.

Types of  psoriasis 

o Plaque  psoriasis : plaque  psoriasis  is the most general type of the skin disease. Plaque  psoriasis  is responsible for about eighty five percent of all cases of  psoriasis . This type of  psoriasis  normally appears as elevated inflamed regions of skin that are covered with white flaky skin.

o Flexural  psoriasis : flexural  psoriasis  appears as a smooth patch of inflamed skin. Most commonly flexural  psoriasis  occurs in the bends of the skin. Flexural  psoriasis  is irritated by perspiration and friction.

o Guttate  psoriasis : Guttate  psoriasis  appears as small round patches. These patches appear over larger areas of the body such as; arms, legs, core section, and scalp.

o Pustular  psoriasis : Pustular  psoriasis  appears as elevated sores that look like blisters because they are filled with pus. Normally these occur on the hands and feet, or wide spread over a larger area.

o Nail  psoriasis : Nail  psoriasis  causes an alteration in the appearance of finger nails and toe nails. These alterations can be discoloration, ridges in the nail, thickening of the skin under the nail, loose nails, nail crumbling, and pitting of the nails.

o Erythrodermic  psoriasis : Erythrodermic  psoriasis  is the broad area of inflammation of the skin. This normally occurs over most of the body. Severe dryness, redness, itching, swelling, and pain may occur.

Symptoms of  psoriasis 

The symptoms of  psoriasis  are pretty general. The most common symptoms of  psoriasis  are areas of skin that appear to be red, inflamed, dry, and flaky skin. Normally the skin on this rash looking area appears as a white or silver color. Some individuals report not only having redness, inflammation, dryness, and flaky skin but also having itchy skin, and slight pain or irritation. These symptoms are normally the only symptoms needed to detect  psoriasis . A diagnosis of the skin disease known as  psoriasis  is generally based on a visual appearance of the skin. Doctors have no need to run tests or other procedures on an individual to determine whether or not they have  psoriasis . In some cases, a physician may perform a skin biopsy or pluck a sample of the flaky skin in order to confirm his suspicion about  psoriasis .

The treatments for  psoriasis 

Every individual who is affected by the skin disease known as  psoriasis  is different. Because every individual is different and because there are various different types of  psoriasis  the treatments for  psoriasis  are not always the same. This is why physicians and/or dermatologists perform numerous different trial treatments to see which treatment the patient responds best to. Doctors and dermatologists perform these trials to find the treatment most appropriate and most effective for the patient. Treatment decisions are based on type of  psoriasis , the general location, severity, extent, patient’s age, sex, quality of life, and objections about particular treatments all play a role in the treatment plan.

As of 2008, the Federal Drug Administration or FDA introduced three new treatments that they had approved for  psoriasis  treatment:

o Taclonex Scalp: Taclonex scalp is a topical ointment for individuals looking to treat scalp  psoriasis .

o Xtrac Velocity Excimer Laser System: This treatment produces a high level of ultra violet light used to treat moderate to severe cases of  psoriasis .

o Adalimumab: This is a biological drug treatment formulated to treat severe cases of  psoriasis .

Doctors and dermatologists also use antibiotics in some cases. Generally, antibiotics are not utilized to treat  psoriasis  but antibiotics are used to fight infection in  psoriasis  patients.

There are numerous different topical treatments that are suggested by physicians and dermatologists to treat  psoriasis . Bath treatments and moisturizers are some of the most common treatments suggested by doctors to treat  psoriasis . This is because these bath treatments and moisturizers help calm the patches, reduce redness, and reduce dryness. Ointments that are applied directly to the affected area help reduce irritation, inflammation, remove skin build up, and increase the overall appearance of the affected area.

There are some disadvantages of topical treatments for treating  psoriasis . If an individual uses a topical treatment for their  psoriasis  over a prolonged or extended amount of time, the medication in the topical treatment can cause irritation to normal skin. These topical medications can also have strong odors or stain clothing among numerous other things.

Phototherapy is a treatment often used to  psoriasis  treatment. Individuals who are exposed to sunlight without burning improve the condition of their  psoriasis . This is why phototherapy was created. Phototherapy provides  psoriasis  patients with exposure to ultra violet rays for a certain amount of time in order to improve their  psoriasis .

Photochemotherapy is a procedure used to treat  psoriasis  in which psoralen and ultraviolet A phototherapy are combined. This procedure is commonly referred to as the PUVA treatment. The psoralen is administered by topical or oral ingestion while the individual also undergoes ultraviolet therapy in order to improve their  psoriasis . Individuals who have undergone the PUVA treatment report symptoms of nausea, fatigue, migraines or headaches, or skin irritation. Long term patients of this treatment have been known to develop squamous cell carcinoma.

How to prevent  psoriasis 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for  psoriasis  that will keep it from occurring again. However, there are numerous precautions you can take in order to help lower the severity of your  psoriasis  and to improve the overall condition. These precautions will not eliminate your  psoriasis ; however, they will help alleviate the pain, irritation, severity, inflammation, among other symptoms.

There are numerous factors that are known to cause flare ups in  psoriasis . Some of these factors include; stress, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking. You can improve your  psoriasis  if you can avoid becoming overly stressed or being stressed out frequently. The frequent consumption of alcohol is also proven to aggravate  psoriasis  so it is suggested that you limit your alcohol consumption to a low amount or eliminate alcohol consumption altogether. Smoking can also cause a flare in your  psoriasis . It is recommended that you cut back on smoking, or if you can, quit smoking altogether. If you can limit these factors, or eliminate most of them the severity of your  psoriasis  is bound to improve.

There are several other precautions you can take. Individuals with  psoriasis  should avoid prolonged exposure to extreme heat, and avoid becoming sun burnt. This may cause your  psoriasis  to become irritated. You should also continue any treatments that your doctor has suggested. Avoid using topical treatments too often. However, you should use your topical ointments on a regular basis. Another great way to improve your  psoriasis  is to begin taking oatmeal bath treatments. Oatmeal bath treatments are great for any skin irritation because the oatmeal soothes the skin. It will reduce redness, itching, dryness, irritation, and inflammation. You should also keep your skin moisturized. You should apply an intensive moisturizing lotion each day in order to keep your skin full of moisture. If your skin becomes dry your  psoriasis  will worsen. Avoid using powders, perfumes, harsh soaps, or exposing your skin to harsh chemicals such as cleaning supplies.

Powders dry out the skin, so it is important to avoid using any powder. Try to keep your skin as moisturized as possible. You should also avoid perfumes around your  psoriasis  outbreaks because they can cause irritation and strip natural oils from the skin. Harsh soaps and detergents should also be avoided because they can cause irritation. Begin using soaps and detergents that have moisturizing agents and allergen controls. These will help moisturize your skin and prevent any irritation. When you are cleaning, it is important to avoid exposing affected skin to the cleaning chemicals and agents. This can irritate your skin, strip natural oils from your skin, and cause severe dryness of your skin.