Psoriasis is known as a chronic autoimmune condition which causes an accelerated buildup of skin cells at some joint regions. As a result of this buildup of cells, scaling on the skin’s surface occurs.
The most reasonably common symptoms are inflammation and redness around the scales. Regular psoriatic scales are usually whitish-silver and grow in red, thick patches. These patches crack and sometimes bleed too.
The sped-up skin production process is the main result of Psoriasis. These skin cells develop rooted in the skin and gradually spread to the surface. In due course, they peel off. The average life cycle of a skin cell is usually one month.
For people suffering from Psoriasis, this generation process might happen in just a few days. As a result of this, the skin cells do not have the time to peel off. Due to this rapid overproduction, the buildup of skin cells occurs.
Psoriatic scales typically emerge on joints, such as knees and elbows. They might develop on anyplace on the body, including hands, feet, neck, scalp, or the face.
Some of the types of Psoriasis also affect the mouth, the nails, and the area around genitals.
Around 7.5 million Americans have Psoriasis, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). It’s generally linked to several other conditions like psoriatic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.
What Are The Symptoms Of Psoriasis?
The symptoms of Psoriasis differ from person to person, and they depend on the form of Psoriasis. It covers a majority of the body’s surface and can be as small as a few flakes on the scalp or elbow depending on the type of Psoriasis.
The most common symptoms of Psoriasis are –
- plaques or whitish-silver scales on the red patches
- dry skin that might crack and bleed raised, inflamed patches of skin
- thick pitted nails
- painful, swollen joints
- soreness around patches
- itching and burning sensations around patches
It is not necessary that all the symptoms appear for a person with Psoriasis. The severity and the occurrence of these symptoms vary from person to person. Some people experience completely unusual symptoms if they hold a less prevalent type of Psoriasis.
A lot of people with Psoriasis experience different cycles of the symptoms. This condition might also cause critical symptoms for a few days or a few weeks, and might then clear up to be nearly unnoticeable. In a few weeks or more if the condition gets worse by a common trigger, then it may break out again. It is also possible that the symptoms might disappear entirely.
You could be in remission when there are no evident signs of the condition. But this does not imply that Psoriasis won’t come back. But you could still be symptom-free.
The Diagnosis Of Psoriasis
There are two tests or examinations could help in determining the occurrence of Psoriasis.
Most of the doctors conduct a diagnosis with a simple physical examination. The symptoms of Psoriasis are usually easy to distinguish and apparent from other conditions that might cause comparable symptoms.
During such an examination, your doctor might go through the history of this condition in your family to make sure whether the symptoms indicate Psoriasis or not.
A biopsy is when the symptoms are uncertain or when your doctor wants to verify the suspected examination, they may take a small sample of skin. This helps in confirming the existence of the condition.
What are the different types of Psoriasis?
There are five different types of Psoriasis. Each type is associated with the area affected or the type of symptoms.
The most common type of Psoriasis is Plaque psoriasis.
The American Academy of Dermatology calculated that around 80 percent of people suffering from this condition usually have plaque psoriasis. It generates inflamed, red patches that spread the surface of the skin. Whitish-silver scales or plaques are covered all over these patches. The plaques are usually located on the scalp, knees, and elbows.
Pustular Psoriasis is more common in adults. It results in pus-filled, white blisters and large areas of inflamed, red skin. Pustular Psoriasis is typically topical to lesser areas on the body, like the feet or hands, but there is a possibility of it to widespread.
Spots of inverse psoriasis typically occur in the areas breasts or armpits, in the groin area, or nearby the skin folds near the genitals. Inverse Psoriasis appears bright on these areas as red, shiny, inflamed skin.
Guttate Psoriasis is most common in children. The peculiar symptom about this type of Psoriasis is small pink spots. The parts of the body at which Guttate Psoriasis is seen the most include the legs, arms, and torso. The spots are not often thick or inflated like the ones in plaque psoriasis.
Erythrodermic Psoriasis is the most severe and often rare among all the types of Psoriasis.
This type usually attacks larger areas of the body at the same time. The result on the skin is similar to that of a sunburn. These scales often develop slough off in large segments. A person with this form of Psoriasis to cannot escape regular fever and illness.
It is a life-threatening condition among all the types and the supervision of a doctor to treat it is very essential.
Is Psoriasis really contagious?
To clarify, Psoriasis is not contagious. This condition cannot be passed on from one person to another. It is not possible that by touching a psoriatic lesion on another person won’t cause you to develop the disease.
Being educated and informed about the condition is essential as people usually have the misconceptions about Psoriasis being contagious. Since we mentioned that, let’s have a look at myth and fact about Psoriasis is contagious.
What are the causes of Psoriasis?
It is very unclear to doctors and researchers as to what the exact causes of Psoriasis are. Through decades of research, the general causes have been derived to an extent. The two quintessential factors are the immune system and genetics.
The body usually attacks itself with the aid of the immune system to keep it away from certain infections. In the case of Psoriasis, which is also classified as an autoimmune condition, the white blood cells mistakenly attack the surface of the skin.
Usually, the white blood cells are disposed to attack and destroy the invasion of microorganisms like bacteria and fighting infections. When the white blood cells lose their direction to the target of these infectious locations, they end up landing at the skin. The mistakenly attacked skin generates the production of more cells as a defense.
The increasing speed process of this cell production causes the plaques, rashes, and inflamed areas on the skin that are the visible symptoms of Psoriasis.
Psoriasis is also categorized as a disease acquired at the genetic level. If you have an immediate or blood-related family member suffering from this condition, you are more prone to acquiring this condition yourself.
The percentage of people who have Psoriasis as a result of genetic predisposition is very minimal. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation of America, about 2 to 3 percent of the people with the gene tend to develop this condition.
It is not sufficient to just have a genetic connection. Flare-ups often occur when specific triggers that start the psoriasis process.
Psoriasis triggers: Stress, alcohol, and Injury
There are specific external triggers that are known for generating the symptoms of Psoriasis. These triggers might not be the same for all the people affected by Psoriasis.
Extraordinarily high levels of stress are one of the triggers of a flare-up. Managing stress and trying to stay as stress-free as possible can reduce and prevent potential flare-ups.
The most common trigger for Psoriasis is stress. Mental stress is known as the strongest causes the body to release chemicals that boost the inflammatory response. Scientists suspect this is the mechanism for stress-induced psoriasis flare-ups.
Psoriasis tends to worsen with weight gain. Flare-ups also can be triggered by certain common medications, like beta blockers used to control high blood pressure or heart rate, or lithium used to treat bipolar disorder. Other triggers include strep throat, injury to the skin, and respiratory infection.
Apart from stress, heavy alcohol use can trigger psoriasis flare-ups. If you consume alcohol excessively, psoriasis outbreaks tend to be more frequent. The consumption of alcohol many times affects your mental health unknowingly. Lessening your alcohol consumption is smart not only for your skin but also for more.
Accidents, cuts, or scraping of the skin may also trigger a flare-up. Not only these, medical interventions like shots, vaccines, or effects on the skin like sunburns also trigger a new outbreak or inflammation.
Mental Health And Psoriasis
As mentioned before, stress is a common trigger for Psoriasis. Living with the disease can also result in more stress, which can, in turn, lead to a new flare-up. People living with the psoriatic condition also find themselves stuck in a never-ending cycle.
The latest research in this condition has pointed out that the same process that triggers inflammation of the Psoriatic condition could also create changes in the brain juices that affect emotional health. Researchers and scientists are trying to bring out an analysis of the correlation between depression, stress, and the psoriatic condition. New therapies and treatments are also being tested to find the best cure.
There are a few concepts that are focussed upon during the research of the relationship between Psoriasis and mental health.
The first is the relationship between the person affected and their healthcare professional apart from the level to which the person considers the psychological well-being. The second is the public insensitivity and ignorance that fuels the stigma of Psoriasis.
Psoriasis and Depression
Compared to those who do not have this condition, people who have Psoriasis are more prone to depression. Even if the symptoms of Psoriasis are mild, there is still a higher risk of depression to occur.
A study has also mentioned that approximately 20% of people with Psoriasis have some form of depression.
Of all the things, depression might affect your treatment plan the most. This can make your depression and Psoriasis even worse. Several reasons link Psoriasis and Depression.
1. It can be embarrassing – The reason for this feeling is obviously what it does to your skin. Scaly, red patches are hard to hide, and they bring out this feeling in the persons affected. The symptoms are more evident in summer.
2. Different treatment – People tend to treat you differently when they know you have this condition. The main reason is the myth that it is contagious. Surveys have shown that one out of five people with the disease faced rejection or unwelcoming treatment because of this condition.
3. It is uncomfortable – The plaques caused by Psoriasis burn, itch, crack and sometimes bleed too. Living with these distressing and, which paves the path for symptoms of depression.
4. Effects on brain chemicals – Immune cells release a substance called cytokines when you’re affected with Psoriasis. As a result of these substances, the symptoms of scaly plaques can be seen. This substance affects the brain chemical serotonin, which relates to depression.
The Stigma Around Psoriasis
It is a Herculean task to change the perceptions of people on suffering from Psoriasis. The most important role is played by education and information about this condition make this task possible.
The most important misconception to deal with is “Psoriasis is contagious.”
It is one of the triggers for depression and stress because of the changed behavior of people around the affected. The social stigma about the condition is closely related to depressive symptoms.
Those observed to be experiencing less social support from family, friends, and companions, are also at risk of such depressive symptoms.
Recognizing those who are going through high levels of low levels of social support and stigmatization is fundamentally crucial in the treatment of Psoriasis.