Psoriasis Causes, Symptoms, Treatment


Table of Contents

1. What is Psoriasis?

2. Symptoms of Psoriasis

3. Causes & Triggers of Psoriasis

4. Psoriasis Diagnosis & Treatment

5. Psoriasis Tips & Home Remedies

1. What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disease that speeds up the growth cycle of skin cells (CDC). This means the skin cells can grow 10 times faster than normal. As a result, the body can produce skin cells in days rather than weeks. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, white blood cells in the immune system (T-cells) attack the body's skin cells, which makes the body make new skin cells more rapidly. It commonly affects the knees, elbows and scalp. There is no cure of psoriasis and it is long-lasting (chronic). It can flareup for symptoms for weeks or months, and them not show any signs.

2. Symptoms of Psoriasis

Psoriasis makes the skin appear with red patches covered with white scales. The symptoms may differ from person to person and by age based on the type of psoriasis:

  • Plaque psoriasis is in about 80 percent of people with this skin diseased.

  • Guttate psoriasis is most common in childhood. It appears as small thin pink spots on the torso, arms, and legs. May or may not become chronic.
  • Pustular psoriasis is more common in adults. Pus-filled blisters that are which with large areas of red, inflamed skin. It can appear all over the body or certain areas, such as hands or feet.

  • Inverse psoriasis shows symptoms of bright red, shiny patches. The mostly develop under the armpits, groin, breasts, or around skinfolds in the genitals.

  • Erythrodermic psoriasis is very rare, but can be life-threatening. Scales and patches appear often and slough off. The skin may appear sunsburned. 

  • Psoriatic arthritis affects 10 - 30 percent of people with psoriasis.  The joints will be achy and swollen. Nails may also appear thickened. Joint damage may get worse and in many cases become permanent.

The common symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • Patches or rashes that are inflamed and raised that appear red on light skin and brown or purple on dark skin, with silvery scales
  • Dry skin that may crack and bleed
  • Painful, stiff, swollen joints
  • Pitted, thickened nails that appear discolored and pitted, crumble or detach from nail bed. 
  • Itching, burning that may cause cracks and bleeding

3. Causes of Psoriasis

There is no known exact cause of psoriasis. Studies report genes and a problem with the immune system accompany psoriasis. The result is inflammation that makes skin cells rapidly. Instead of new skin cells being produced every 10 to 30 days, they grow every 3 to 4 days. The silver scales that appear are caused by the build up of old cells being replaced by new ones. Psoriasis is not contagious.

Triggers that have been found to cause flare-ups include:

  • Emotional stress
  • Genetics plays a role in psoriasis, but it may skip generations.
  • Medications, such as, for blood pressure, anti-malarial drugs (hydroxychloroquine), lithium, antibiotics and NSAIDS
  • Skin injury, such as sunburn, surgery, cuts or scapes
  • Problem with the immune system. White blood cells, called T-cells, attack skin cells and continue for the person's whole life. 
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol use (excessive)

4. Diagnosis & Treatment of Psoriasis

Psoriasis may be diagnosed with a questionnaire from your doctor and by examining your skin, scalp and nails. A biopsy may also be part of the examination to help with mis-diagnosing of other conditions.

For psoriasis treatment, you may be recommended creams and ointments, and injected medications to stop the rapid growth of skin cells.

Other therapy may include:

  • Topical or injectable corticosteriod for the treatment of mild to moderate psoriasis. They come in creams, ointments, lotions and other forms. Stronger corticosteroid may be prescribed for more severe symptoms. Over time, corticosteroids may not be effective.
  • Retinoids applied once or twice daily may help, but they have side effects of skin irritation and sun sensitivity.  Some forms are not recommended for pregnant or breast-feeding women. In pill form it may help reduce production of skin cells. As mentioned, retinoids may cause side effects including dry skin and sore muscles.
  • Vitamin D in synthetic form, have been shown to slow skin cell growth. These include calcipotriene and calcitriol.
  • Salicylatic acid may help reduce scaling in psoriasis. However, it may be irritating for sensitive skin.
  • Coal tar also may help itching, inflammation and scaling. But it is messy and can stain clothing. It also has a strong odor.
  • Light therapy, such as sunlight, ultraviolet A, laser, and UVB broadband or narrowband, may also be recommended.

5. Tips & Home Remedies for Psoriasis

With self-care, you can manage psoriasis symptoms and help you skin feel and look its best. American Academy of Dermatology and Mayo Clinic recommend the following:

  • Daily baths help remove scales and calm inflamed skin. Colloidal oatmeal and Epsom salts added to the water and soaking in it for 15 minutes is helpful. Always use lukewarm water and mild soaps free of common irritating ingredients, including fragrance, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), parabens, dyes, salicylates, plant extracts and essential oils. Make sure to dry gently with a soft towel.
  • Moisturizers are very important to help prevent dry skin. If your skin is dry, use a rich cream. If your skin is oily, choose an oil-free lotion. You can remove scales by wrapping with plastic the affected area at bed time, and removing it when you wake. 
  • Sunlight is helpful in small doses and only during early morning when it's not at the strongest radiation. Too much sun can worsen symptoms and increase risk of skin cancer. Always protect your skin with a zinc oxide sunscreen instead of brands that use harmful chemicals.
  • Avoid or manage psoriasis triggers such as stress, smoking, and excessive alcohol drinking.
  • Maintain healthy lifestyle by keeping a healthy weight, staying active and eating well.

Takeaways and Coping with Psoriasis

Since psoriasis can be a life-long challenge, it's important to do your part with self-help.  The more your learn about it, the better you'll understand how to choose treatment options and home remedies that will work. By research and educating yourself on treatment options, you'll also recognize what works and what doesn't work. 

If you feel self-conscious about how your skin looks, use clothing and cosmetics that will make you feel comfortable and will also cover-up lesions.

Finding a support group can be another consideration to learn from others who have gone through similar challenges. Your doctor may be able to help with recommendations of local or online support groups.

Recommended Products for Psoriasis

Cleure skin, hair and body products are formulated to help the skin become clean, moisturized and calm. With self-care, recommendations by your doctor and using products that are gentle, mild and effective to allow the skin to become healthy, you can manage psoriasis and not allow it to get the best of you.

Cleure sensitive skin products are recommended by dermatologists and made in the USA.