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Psoriasis. Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Cure.

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What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis. Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Cure.

Psoriasis is a chronic scaling disease of the skin characterized by silvery, scaly raised patches of dead skin. It first appears as thick, patches of skin and is common on pressure points such as the elbows, knees, knuckles, as well as on the scalp, the trunk, the arms and legs, the external sex organs, and the fingernails and toenails. It may range from just a few spots to large areas of involvement. The patches may be silver or red. Psoriasis is not an infection and is not contagious. It will not spread from one part of the body to another or from person to person, you cannot contract it from anyone. Psoriasis is a common skin disorder that can occur at any age and in both men and women. It is more common in fair-skinned people and people who have a family history of the disease, those on steroid medications, and those with high stress levels. Psoriasis is an unpredictable condition that can flare up for no apparent reason, although it can flare up after an injury, after exposure to extremely cold temperatures, and during an illness or infection.

Psoriasis is a chronic disorder, which means it can come back frequently and last a long time. This condition often appears in people between the ages of 10 and 40, and is rare under the age of 3. Most people who develop it do so before the age of 30. It is estimated that psoriasis affects over 5 million people in the United States, about two or three of every 100 people.

People with psoriasis are otherwise healthy and feel well. However, if psoriasis affects large areas of the skin, like the hands, feet or face, it can interfere with a person’s ability to function normally. They may have problems walking or holding a job. They may be judged or teased by co-workers or the public.

Information on Psoriasis

Causes

People with psoriasis have an abnormally high rate of skin cell maturity. The skin cells multiply so rapidly, that the body is unable to shed old cells quickly enough for new cells to replace them. With psoriasis, the skin matures in less than one week compared with the normal rate of every 28 to 30 days. This is a result of a disordered immune system, the T-cells, a type of white blood cell, become over-stimulated. They direct the skin to try and “heal” a non-existent injury. The cells then push their way to the surface of the skin, creating a build up of dead skin from the old cells. These areas become the reddened, inflamed, patches with white scale on them.

Symptoms

The classic symptoms of psoriasis are patches of thick, red skin covered with silvery scales. Psoriasis most commonly occurs on the elbows, knees, lower back, scalp, face, palms, and soles of the feet and buttocks. The disease may also affect the fingernails and toenails, as well as the soft tissues inside the mouth and genitalia. Sometimes referred to as plaques, these patches usually itch and may burn. They grow larger and become inflamed. The inflamed skin gets scaly and flakes off. The scales underneath may bleed if picked at or scratched.

Major symptoms of skin psoriasis disease include :

  • Bright red areas of raised patches (plaques) on the skin often covered with loose, silvery scales. They accumulate and scale off in the form of flakes.

  • Psoriasis can occur anywhere, but commonly appear on the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet, or lower back, even the fingernails.

  • The scales may bleed when picked or scraped off.

  • Areas where there are folds in the body, such as underarms, under the breasts or buttocks may itch, especially during sudden flare-ups.

  • In psoriasis of the nail, you might find symptoms of yellowish discoloration, separation of the end of the nail from the nail bed, tiny pits in the nails, and a buildup of skin debris under the nails. The outbreak can be so severe that the nail thickens and crumbles away.

What makes psoriasis worse?

While the underlying cause of psoriasis stems from your body’s immune system, certain triggering factors or events can make it worse or cause flare-ups. Some psoriasis relief can be accomplished be avoiding these trigger factors. These include:

  • Trauma to the skin – Injury or trauma can make psoriasis worse, including cuts, bruises, bums, bumps, vaccinations, tattoos, or rash. This condition is called “Koebner’s phenomenon, and occurs in about one in every four people with psoriasis.

  • Climate and weather – Lengthy exposure to cold and dry weather can dry out your skin, causing flare-ups. In contrast, hot, sunny weather appears to help control the symptoms psoriasis in some people. But be careful, sunburns can cause psoriasis to flare, always wear sunscreen when going outside.

  • Infections – Some throat and upper respiratory infections, such as strep throat or tonsillitis, can result in guttate psoriasis or other types of psoriasis. This is most commonly seen in children and young adults. Psoriasis may also worsen in people infected with HIV.

  • Stress – Having psoriasis can cause stress itself. Patients often report that outbreaks of symptoms come during particularly stressful times. If you find you are getting flare-ups during stressful times, try to find ways to lessen the stressful situations.

  • Medicine – Certain medications may make psoriasis worse. These include lithium (a common treatment for bipolar disorder), drugs for malaria and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, some beta-blockers (prescribed for high blood pressure, heart disease, and some arrhythmias). Your doctor should know if you are taking any of these medications.

  • Alcohol – Consuming alcohol may increase the chances of flare-ups and make psoriasis treatment ineffective.

  • Smoking – Smoking can also worsen psoriasis.

  • Diet – Some people find their psoriasis is worse if they are overweight – weight loss is helpful in controlling their psoriasis.

Psoriasis Treatment

Although there is no current psoriasis cure, there are ways of treating psoriasis that can control the disease. How psoriasis is treated is determined by the location, severity and history of psoriasis in each individual case. Each person responds differently and finding the most effective psoriasis remedy for you can involve much trial and error.

Doctors generally help psoriasis by treating it in steps according to the severity of symptoms or responsiveness to the initial treatments. Healing psoriasis this way is referred to as the “1-2-3” approach. The psoriasis medicine varies with each step of the treatment.

  • Step 1:  Topical Therapy – Psoriasis medication is applied to the skin. This may include moisturizers, topical steroids, ointments , tar, salicylic acid, and topical solutions.

  • Step 2:  Phototherapy – Treatments that use light. Types of light treatments available are PUVA, UVA, UVB, narrow band UVB, and natural light.

  • Step 3:  Systemic Therapy – Medication taken internally (swallowed) or by injection and intravenously.  These medications can suppress the immune system, contain vitamin A or help slow down the growth rate of skin

People with severe and extensive psoriasis may get the most relief and avoid or reduce side effects when treatments are rotated. Over time, affected skin tends to resist some treatments, doctors then should switch treatments every 12 to 24 months to reduce resistance and negative reactions. Some patients also find that when treatments stop, they start to experience symptoms again.

While there is no known cure for psoriasis, following your doctor’s recommended treatments can help reduce and relive symptoms and can prevent future flare-ups.

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