Psoriasis Comprehensive Guide: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide, often causing physical and emotional distress. The exact cause of psoriasis is not entirely understood, but it is believed to be related to an overactive immune system that mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells.ch
This chronic (long term) condition is common and can appear as a rash on the scalp, knees, elbows and trunk. Psoriasis can affect people of any age but is most commonly seen in adults. It is not contagious, so it cannot be spread from person to person.
Symptoms of psoriasis
Common symptoms include red, thick, and scaly skin patches that can cause itching and discomfort. In some cases, the rash can be covered with silvery, white scales. Psoriasis can also cause joint inflammation and pain, known as psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis is a condition that can present itself in a variety of ways. Included in the common signs and symptoms are:
- It can be visible as a patchy rash with scaling of various shades. Brown and black skin can show scales that are purple or gray.
- Small spots, which are commonly seen in children.
- Dryness on skin with cracking, that may lead to bleeding.
- Burning, itching, and soreness.
The signs and symptoms can also appear cyclically, with flares occurring for a period of time before subsiding.
Causes and triggers
The exact cause of psoriasis is not entirely understood, but it is believed to be related to an overactive immune system that mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells.
Individuals with psoriasis can take steps to reduce the occurrence and intensity of flare-ups by recognizing and managing the factors that cause them, called triggers.
Various factors can trigger psoriasis flare-ups, making the condition unpredictable and challenging to manage.
By identifying and managing their specific triggers, individuals with psoriasis can better control their condition and reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition, exercise, and stress management can also help alleviate the overall impact of psoriasis on one's well-being.
Those with a predisposition to psoriasis may have little to no symptoms for a long time, until something in their environment causes the disease to flare up. Possible triggers of this are:
- Different types of weather, such as very hot or very cold
- Skin damage, such as a insect bite or scrape
- Smoking or second hand smoke
- Drinking excessive alcohol
- Certain drugs, including high blood pressure drugs
- Suddenly stopping to use steroids.
Types of Psoriasis
There are five main types of psoriasis:
- Plaque - Plaque psoriasis is the most common form and appears as raised, red patches, covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells.
- Guttate - Guttate psoriasis is characterized by small, dot-like lesions that often appear after a strep infection.
- Inverse - Inverse psoriasis causes smooth patches of red, inflamed skin in body folds, such as the armpits, groin, and under the breasts.
- Pustular - Pustular psoriasis is characterized by white blisters of noninfectious pus surrounded by red skin.
- Erythrodermic - Erythrodermic psoriasis is rare, but the most severe form of the condition and causes widespread inflammation and redness over most of the body.
Treatments vary depending on the severity of the condition and the individual's response to treatment. Options may include:
- Topical creams and ointments - Corticosteroids are the most common drug prescribed. They are included in shampoo, sprays, gels creams and ointments. Long term use can have a negative side affect of thinning the skin.
- Oral medications such as NSAIDs (acetominophen, ibuprofin), apremilast, methotrexate, cyclosporin, acitretin. Oral drugs have some form of side effects. It's important to discuss them with your physician for better understanding of which to take.
- Light therapy such as UVB phototherapy involves controlled exposure to natural or artificial light.
- Biologics that are injected drugs to alter the immune system.
Home Remedies to help psoriasis
Psoriasis is an individualized condition, so treatments that work for one person may not work for another. Consulting with a medical professional is the best way to determine the right treatment for you. Additionally, some home remedies can be beneficial in reducing symptoms. Seven of these remedies have been tested and shown to be effective for some people.
- A warm bath can be beneficial to people suffering from psoriasis. It can help to reduce itching and irritation by adding Epsom salt, mineral oil, colloidal oatmeal, or olive oil to the bath.
- To ensure the best results, limit your showers to 5 minutes and baths to 15 minutes.
- American Academy of Dermatology recommends using an SLS-free moisturizing soap with oatmeal. Use a soft towel and pat (not rub) yourself dry.
- Apply a fragrance-free moisturizer for sensitive skin after the bath.
- Reducing stress with breathing exercises, gentle stretches and meditation
- Eating a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins may help proper weight and decrease symptoms.
- Certain supplements such as turmeric, omega-3 fatty acids, and aloe vera have been suggested
Incorporating home remedies alongside medical treatment, can provide additional relief for those affected by psoriasis.
It is important to be aware of the possible side effects of home remedies for psoriasis and to use them with caution. Skin irritation, allergic reactions, and an increase in symptoms are all potential risks. To minimize these risks, it is best to first test a small amount of any new remedy on a patch of skin before applying it to larger areas. By considering the potential side effects and speaking to a healthcare professional, individuals with psoriasis can make an educated decision about incorporating home remedies into their treatment.
Psoriasis is an individualized condition, so treatments that work for one person may not work for another. Consulting with a medical professional is the best way to determine the right treatment for you. Additionally, some home remedies can be beneficial in reducing symptoms. Nine of these remedies have been tested and shown to be effective for some people.
1,2 Menter A, Gottlieb A, et al. “Guidelines of care for the management of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, Section 1: Overview of psoriasis and guidelines of care for the treatment of psoriasis with biologics.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008; 58:826-50.
Menter, A, Gottlieb A, et al. “Guidelines of care for the management of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis Section 1. Overview of psoriasis and guidelines of care for the treatment of psoriasis with biologics.” J Am Acad Dermatol2008;58:826-50.