Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes red thick plaques on the skin, which is dry and itchy, and sometimes painful. It often develops on the elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms, and feet. An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks healthy cells instead of infectious germs.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of psoriasis vary among individuals. But the most common symptoms include:
- Red patches of skin with thick scales
- Small scaling spots (usually seen among children)
- Dry cracked screen (that sometimes bleed)
- Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
- Swollen and stiff joints
Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions that cover large areas. For most people, psoriasis go through cycles, flaring for a few weeks, then subsiding for a time, or even going into complete remission.
Types of Psoriasis
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type. It causes dry, raised, red skin lesions with silvery scales. The plaques are dry and sometimes painful, and occur anywhere on the body, including the genitals and the inside of your mouth.
This type is more common among overweight individuals and is usually seen in the armpits, the groin area, under the breasts and around the genitals. Symptoms include smooth red patches of red, inflamed skin, which worsens with friction and sweat.
This type affects the fingernails and toenails. It causes pitting, abnormal hair growth and discoloration. Nails of people with this type of psoriasis tend to crumble and separate from the nail bed.
Also known as teardrop or raindrop psoriasis, this type primarily affects children and young adults. It is usually triggered by a bacterial infection such as strep throat. The plaques that appear on the skin are usually small and can appear anywhere in the body except the soles of the feet and palms. A person may experience a single outbreak that goes away quickly, or sometimes, repeated episodes but there are some people who eventually develop plaque psoriasis afterwards.
This type occurs alone or together with plaque psoriasis. Red patches covered with thick silvery white scales are usually seen at the back of the head or on other parts of the head. Hair loss occur in some cases.
Pustular psoriasis is an uncommon type, which can occur in widespread patches or in areas on the palms and soles of the feet (palmoplantar pustular psoriasis) or on fingers or toes or both (acropustulosis). It develops quickly with pus-filled blisters appearing just hours after the skin becomes red and tender. Pustular psoriasis can also cause fever, chills, severe itching, and diarrhea.
This is the least common type of psoriasis, which can be life-threatening, as it covers the entire body with a red rash that can itch or burn intensely. With erythrodermic psoriasis, the body becomes more prone to losing proteins and fluid, which then results to dehydration or even heart failure.
Some people with psoriasis also develop a type of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis. Most people develop psoriasis first, but sometimes, arthritis comes first before the lesions appear. Symptoms range from mild to severe, but it’s not as crippling as other forms of arthritis. However, it can still cause stiffness and joint damage, which can lead to permanent deformity.
Despite the fact that psoriasis is incurable, it responds well to topical and systemic treatments. It is best to talk to your doctor about your condition so that they can provide the appropriate treatment for your psoriasis.
- Salicylic Acid
- Steroid-based creams
- Calcitriol (Vectical) containing topical ointment
- Coal-tar ointments and shampoos
- Prescription retinoids
- PUVA (the drug psoralen combined with UVA light)
- Ultraviolet B light
- Narrow-band UBV therapy
- Oral retinoids
If medications fail to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis, some people try natural remedies such as herbs and vitamins for relief. Some individuals with psoriasis find natural sunlight and ocean water helpful in relieving symptoms. Dead sea salts, aloe vera, fish oil, and cayenne are just some of the natural remedies for psoriasis. Also, since overweight individuals are more prone to developing psoriasis, observing a healthy diet is recommended to help improve symptoms.