August is Psoriasis Awareness Month, making it a good time to learn the facts about the autoimmune inflammatory disease that affects about 2 percent of the population. It commonly affects individuals in their third or fourth decade with males being affected two times more common than females. Psoriasis significantly impairs the quality of life of patients and their families resulting in great physical, emotional and social burden.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that causes inflammation in the body. There may be visible signs of the inflammation such as raised plaques (plaques may look different for different skin types) and scales on the skin. This occurs because the overactive immune system speeds up skin cell growth.
Normal skin cells completely grow and shed (fall off) in a month. With psoriasis, skin cells do this in only three or four days. Instead of shedding, the skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin. Some people report that psoriasis plaques itch, burn and sting. Plaques and scales may appear on any part of the body, although they are commonly found on the elbows, knees, and scalp.
Locations Of Psoriasis
Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, even on the eyelids, ears, lips, skin folds, hands, feet, and nails. Plaques can be a few small patches or can affect large areas. It’s possible to have psoriasis plaques and scales in more than one location on the body at a time.
What are the different types of psoriasis?
There are five types of psoriasis:
Plaque psoriasis: It causes red, inflamed patches that cover areas of the skin. These patches are often covered with whitish-silver scales or plaques. These plaques are commonly found on the elbows, knees, and scalp.
Guttate psoriasis: Guttate psoriasis is common in childhood. This type of psoriasis causes small pink spots. The most common sites for guttate psoriasis include the torso, arms, and legs. These spots are rarely thick or raised like plaque psoriasis.
Pustular psoriasis: Pustular psoriasis is more common in adults. It causes white, pus-filled blisters and broad areas of red, inflamed skin. Pustular psoriasis is typically localized to smaller areas of the body, such as the hands or feet, but it can be widespread.
Inverse psoriasis: Inverse psoriasis causes bright areas of red, shiny, inflamed skin. Patches of inverse psoriasis develop under armpits or breasts, in the groin, or around skinfolds in the genitals.
Erythrodermic psoriasis: Erythrodermic psoriasis is a severe and very rare type of psoriasis. This form often covers large sections of the body at once. The skin almost appears sunburned. Scales that develop often slough off in large sections or sheets. It’s not uncommon for a person with this type of psoriasis to run a fever or become very ill.
Milder Form Erythrodermic psoriasis
Severe Form Erythrodermic psoriasis
Causes Behind Psoriasis:
While scientists do not know what exactly causes psoriasis, it is thought that the immune system and genetics play major roles behind the development of Psoriasis.
Autoimmune conditions are the result of the body attacking itself. In a typical body, white blood cells are deployed to attack and destroy invading bacteria and fight infections.
In the case of psoriasis, white blood cells known as T cells mistakenly attack the skin cells. This mistaken attack causes the skin cell production process to go into overdrive. The sped-up skin cell production causes new skin cells to develop too quickly. They are pushed to the skin’s surface, where they pile up.
Some people inherit genes that make them more likely to develop psoriasis. If you have an immediate family member with the skin condition, your risk for developing psoriasis is higher.
Psoriasis triggers: Stress, alcohol, and more
One thing we do know: psoriasis is not contagious. You cannot catch psoriasis from another person. Usually, something triggers psoriasis, causing symptoms to appear or worsen. Triggers vary from person to person. External “triggers” may start a new bout of psoriasis. These triggers aren’t the same for everyone. They may also change over time for you.
The most common triggers for psoriasis include:
- Injury: An accident, cut, scrape, vaccines, and sunburns may trigger a flare-up or a new outbreak
- Medications: Some medications like lithium, antimalarial medications, Antihypertensive drugs
What are the symptoms?
Psoriasis symptoms differ from person to person and depend on the type of psoriasis. Areas of psoriasis can be as small as a few flakes on the scalp or elbow, or cover the majority of the body. Most people with psoriasis go through “cycles” of symptoms. The condition may cause severe symptoms for a few days or weeks, and then the symptoms may clear up and be almost unnoticeable. Then, in a few weeks or if made worse by a common psoriasis trigger, the condition may flare up again.
The most common symptoms of plaque psoriasis include:
- red, raised, inflamed patches of skin
- whitish-silver scales or plaques on the red patches
- dry skin that may crack and bleed
- soreness around patches
- itching and burning sensations around patches
- thick, pitted nails
- painful, swollen joints
Psoriatic arthritis: When Psoriasis involves joint and connective tissue inflammation. Psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint, but is most common in the joints of the fingers and toes.
Sometimes, symptoms of psoriasis disappear completely. When you have no active signs of the condition, you may be in “remission.” That doesn’t mean psoriasis won’t come back, but for now you’re symptom-free.
Management and Treatment Of Psoriasis:
Lifestyle modification doesn’t cure Psoriasis. But some lifestyle changes may help ease symptoms of psoriasis and reduce flare-ups:
If you’re overweight, losing weight may reduce the condition’s severity. Losing weight may also make treatments more effective. It’s unclear how weight interacts with psoriasis, so even if symptoms remain unchanged, losing weight is still good for overall health.
2.Eat a heart-healthy diet
Reduce your intake of saturated fats. These are found in animal products like meats and dairy. Increase your intake of lean proteins that contain omega-3 fatty acids. Plant sources of omega-3s include walnuts, flax seeds, and soybeans.
3.Avoid trigger foods
Psoriasis causes inflammation. Certain foods cause inflammation too. Avoiding those foods might improve symptoms. These foods include:
4.Drink less alcohol
5.Consider taking vitamins
Some doctors prefer a vitamin-rich diet to vitamins in pill form. However, even the healthiest eater may need help getting adequate nutrients. Ask your doctor if you should be taking any vitamins as a supplement to your diet.
In Modern Medicine:
Psoriasis has no cure. Treatments aim to reduce inflammation and scales, slow the growth of skin cells, and remove plaques. Psoriasis treatments fall into three categories:
Creams and ointments applied directly to the skin can be helpful for reducing mild to moderate psoriasis. Topical psoriasis treatments include:
- topical corticosteroids
- topical retinoids
- vitamin D analogues
- salicylic acid
People with moderate to severe psoriasis, and those who haven’t responded well to other treatment types, may need to use oral or injected medications. Many of these medications have severe side effects. These medications include:
Light therapy is a first-line treatment for moderate to severe psoriasis, either alone or in combination with medications. It involves exposing the skin to controlled amounts of natural or artificial light such as Sunlight, UVB broadband, UVB narrowband, Psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA).
Short-term side effects of Light Therapy include nausea, headache, burning and itching. Long-term side effects include dry and wrinkled skin, freckles, increased sun sensitivity, and increased risk of skin cancer, including melanoma.
There is no specific remedy for Psoriasis in Homoeopathy. But your physician will find the suitable medicine for you from your symptoms totality which will help you to get rid of your symptoms.. Here are few of most commonly used homoeopathic medicines for Psoriasis..
- Arsenicum Album
- Arsenicum Iodum
- Carbolic acid
- Hepar Sulph
- Kali Arsh
- Kali Brom
- Manganum Aceticum
- Merc Sulph
- strych p
The Bottom line ___Living with psoriasis
Life with psoriasis can be challenging, but with the right approach, you can reduce flare-ups and live a healthy, fulfilling life. These three areas will help you cope in the short- and long-term:
- Diet: Losing weight and maintaining a healthy diet can go a long way toward helping ease and reduce symptoms of psoriasis. This includes eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, and plants. You should also limit foods that may increase inflammation like refined sugars, dairy products, and processed foods. There is anecdotal evidence that eating nightshade fruits and vegetables like tomatoes , white potatoes, eggplants, and pepper-derived foods like paprika and cayenne pepper (but not black pepper, which comes from a different plant altogether) can trigger psoriasis symptoms.
- Stress: Stress is a well-established trigger for psoriasis. You may learn to manage and cope with stress by meditation, breathing ,yoga etc. Reduced stress may help you to reduce flare-ups and ease symptoms.
- Emotional health: People with psoriasis are more likely to experience depression and self-esteem issues, may feel less confident when new spots appear. Even talking with family members about how psoriasis affects also become difficult. The constant cycle of the condition may be frustrating too. It’s important to find a counsellor, who will help to get out from depression.
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