Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes red, itchy scaly patches, most commonly on the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp.
It is a common long-term (chronic) disease with no cure which tends to go through cycles, spreading for a few weeks or months then subsiding for a while or going into reduction.
However, treatments are available to help you manage symptoms. But at the same time, one needs to incorporate lifestyle habits and coping strategies to help one live better with psoriasis.
What are common causes of it?
Dr. Ritika Dhingra, Founder of The luxe clinique said, “Psoriasis is thought to be an immune system problem that causes the skin to regenerate at faster than normal rates. In the most common type of psoriasis, known as plaque psoriasis, this rapid turnover of cells results in scales and red patches.”
The most common symptom is a rash on the skin, but sometimes the rash involves the nails or joints.
Many people who are predisposed to psoriasis may be free of symptoms for years until the disease is triggered by some environmental factor. Common psoriasis triggers include:
- Infections, such as strep throat or skin infections
- Weather, especially cold, dry conditions
- Injury to the skin, such as a cut or scrape, a bug bite, or a severe sunburn
- Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Certain medications — including lithium, high blood pressure medication.
What are Treatments available?
“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.” says Dr. Dhingra.
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 analogs
- Salicylic acid
“This psoriasis treatment uses ultraviolet (UV) or natural light. Sunlight kills the overactive white blood cells that are attacking healthy skin cells and causing rapid cell growth. Both UVA and UVB light may be helpful in reducing symptoms of mild to moderate psoriasis”, explained Dr. Dhingra.
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. Doctors usually prescribe them for short periods of time.
These medications include:
- Cyclosporine (Sandimmune)
Usually start at -the most commonly affected areas are the lower back, elbows, knees, legs, soles of the feet, scalp, face, and palms.
If left untreated, patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis could develop psoriatic arthritis (PsA), which affects up to 40% of patients. Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, PsA can cause pain, disability, and permanent joint deformities
Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease (a disease with an unclear cause that is characterized by inflammation caused by dysfunction of the immune system) 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.