Psoriasis is a disease which is autoimmune in nature. It affects the skin and causes a massive increase in skin cell growth making the skin have a patchy appearance. It is not a contagious disease and cannot be spread by touching an affected person.
The most common type of this illness is plaque psoriasis. It affects the skin of the elbows, lower back, knees and scalp. The affected skin patches have a red appearance and are characterized by the presence of silver-white scales. These may crack and bleed when touched. Other kinds of this skin condition include guttate, pustular, inverse and erythrodermic psoriasis.
Is psoriasis a common skin condition?
Currently, 1.5% of the total population of UK suffers from this skin condition. It seems to affect younger females but in adulthood, it affects men more. The incidence of this condition decreases with the increase in age.
Risk factors and causes of Psoriasis
This skin condition is considered to be genetic in nature. However, it is important to note that a combination of environmental factors and inherited genes that cause the manifestation of this skin disease. It can also be triggered by a host of infections particularly those caused by Streptococcus. People who have HIV are affected easily by this condition.
Drugs having lithium, beta adrenergic blockers, anti-malarial drugs, antibiotics and corticosteroids increase your chances of getting affected by this disease. Consumption of alcohol and smoking will also increase your chances of getting psoriasis.
What are the treatment options for psoriasis?
Unfortunately, there is no proper cure for psoriasis. However, some treatments help reduce skin cell turnover and skin inflammation. This is an excellent way to reduce the visible effects of his skin condition.
Some topical creams help ease out the symptoms of psoriasis to quite an extent. The special ingredients in these lotions and ointments are coal tar, corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, moisturizers, retinoids, anthralin and immunomodulators.
The function of moisturizers, salicylic acid and coal tar is to reduce dryness, scaling and itching. Corticosteroids reduce signs of inflammation and are prescribed to be used at the time of flare ups.
Calcitriol is a vitamin D analogue that reduces the signs of inflammation but does not cause skin thinning. Pimecromilus and tacromilus are some immunomodulators that are prescribed with a bit of caution for fear of increasing the chances of developing skin cancer. However, their ability to treat psoriasis without causing skin thinning cannot be undermined.
Phototherapy (light therapy) is also used as an excellent treatment option. This does not mean that you increase your sunlight exposure. A little sunshine makes the itching in the affected flaky skin go away but over-exposure can actually worsen your condition.
Oral medications include retinoids, cyclosporine, methotraxate and mycophenolate mofetil. These support the body’s natural defense mechanisms and reduce the signs of inflammation.
However, given the various side effects of these drugs, topical medications are the most prescribed forms of therapy for psoriasis. These not only limit the skin infection but also, prevent the chances of recurrence.