Healthcare Information
Psoriasis
April 5, 2022

Psoriasis is a skin condition that is of major concern among dermatologists and at the same time, has seemed not to receive the spotlight it deserves. About 2-3% of the world’s population suffer from psoriasis.

Those suffering from this skin condition not only have to live with the discomfort but also the stigma that comes with it. Thus, psoriasis can also have an major impact on the psychological state of those with the condition as they may worry others judge them based on their disease.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disease or in other words the immune system is not working as should. Rather than fight viruses, the body is working against itself or in the case of psoriasis in affecting the skin.

It comes with several symptoms which are mostly physical, such as scale-like rash on affected area, dry skin, itching and burning, skin discoloration and so much more. People living with psoriasis often go between periods of flare and remission.

A flare period is characterized as when psoriasis physically shows itself on the patient's body. Flare periods can be mild as well as extremely intense and is usually accompanied by itching or burning.

Although this maybe a regular occurrence for these people, remission can also occur when the skin clears up for a period. Of course, the old scars do not go away but they may stay in remission for a long period of time until they experience a trigger again.

What can cause flare ups?

For patients, triggers can range from hormonal changes which is basically unavoidable for women. Another factor that can lead to a flare up is stress which often times cannot be avoided. Stress can be particularly tricky when dealing with psoriasis as those with the condition stress or worry while trying to avoid a flare up.

Sometimes, a totally unrelated skin injury can also be a trigger. Patients who have other immune deficiencies also flare up a lot. There are different forms of psoriasis including but not limited to plaque psoriasis and scalp psoriasis.

Types of Psoriasis

  1. Plaque

Plaque is the most common type of the disease as it is found in about 80% psoriatic patients. It usually involves thickened areas of dry skin, which feels scaly and appears pink or red with silvery white scale on light skin.

On dark skin, it looks dark brown or purple with grey scales. Can be managed using ultraviolent light and applying ointment.

2. Scalp

Scalp psoriasis typically affects the head and its surrounding regions i.e., neck, ears, forehead etc. It is fairly popular, affecting almost a half of the psoriatic patients.

It is also very possible to have more than one kind of psoriasis. Scalp psoriasis may be mild and sometimes very severe with symptoms of thickened skin, dry scalp, itching, bleeding, temporary hair loss, dandruff like flakes.

Treatment includes coal tar which causes the shedding of dry skin from the body, medicated shampoos, ointments, phototherapy, injections and scalp therapy.  

Causes of the Condition

The first reaction people get when they see a psoriatic patient is usually worry that they are contagious. That of course is understandable, but the fact of the matter is psoriasis is not contagious at all. Some of its known causes are:

  1. Genetics

Genetics is one of the most notable causes of psoriasis. This is because, patients with this skin condition more often than not, have a relative or had a relative that has had to live with the condition.

2. Autoimmunity

When the body does not function as it should, it can convince itself that its healthy cells are a danger to it. So instead of fighting viruses and infections, the body is constantly working against itself.                         

What does psoriasis look like?

Mild psoriasis looks like red or pink irritation to the skin with silvery white patches while severe psoriasis appears and feel scaly and will itch till it burns. A patient who has had previous psoriatic experience will have scars from previous scales and the itching that comes with it.

Treatment options

There is no known permanent treatment for the skin condition but there are approved measures that can be taken to control the spread of flares and help keep the individual in a longer period of remission. Some of these measures are;

  1. Psychological intervention

It has already been established that stress is a serious trigger that must not be undermined. It has also been proven by experts in the field that patients who experience psoriasis on hidden parts of their body tend to worry less than those who cannot hide its presence and as such, they experience significantly lesser flare ups.

Therefore, effort should be made to keep the patient’s mind as stress-free as possible and making their environment free of judgement.

2. Phototherapy

 Light therapy has also been deemed a safe treatment for many skin conditions. It releases waves of light that helps improve the body’s natural healing process.

3. Over the counter relief

Ointments and some medications are given to control the effects of psoriasis on patients. Although chosen treatment varies in relation to type of psoriasis. It is therefore necessary that the kind of medication gotten, or ointment be prescribed by a dermatologist.

4. Injections

There are certain medications which have been developed to inject directly into affected area to help control it.

What is the difference between eczema and psoriasis?

While both skin conditions may look the same, they are quite different. The biggest difference of cause lies in their causes.

Eczema seems to focus more on the back of the knee and the inside of the elbows while psoriasis can affect any part of the human body. Eczema is quite common in kids and psoriasis makes its presence known from age 15-above.

Eczema hates heat and can be very unbearable in summer and hot weather while a controlled amount of natural sunlight tends to reduce the effect of psoriasis.

And finally, while both diseases itch, psoriasis causes mild to severe itching and sometimes burn while eczema causes itching so intense, it causes victims to scratch till they bleed and further.