Psoriasis: Causes and Treatment
It is not contagious or fatal but psoriasis is a source of great discomfort and embarrassment to its victims

Psoriasis is a common non-contagious, lifelong skin disorder that courses rapid skin cell reproduction resulting in red, dry, scaly patches of thick, dead skin. It commonly affects the skin on the elbows, knees and scalp although it can also affect any part of the body’s skin surface. It is estimated that about two percent of world population is affected by psoriasis. Some people have such mild psoriasis (small, faint dry skin patches) that they may not suspect that they are suffering from a medical skin condition. Others have very severe psoriasis where almost their entire body is fully covered with thick, red, scaly skin.

Psoriasis is considered a non-curable, long-term (chronic) skin condition. It has a variable course, periodically improving or worsening. Sometimes psoriasis may clear for years and stay in remission. For some people, the symptoms get worse during the cold season while there is a general improvement in warmer months or with increasing exposure to sunlight.

Psoriasis is seen worldwide, in all races, and both sexes. It is common in people between the ages of 15 and 35. However, it is known that psoriasis can develop at any age. People with more severe psoriasis may experience social embarrassment, job stress or emotional distress because of the appearance of the skin.

What causes psoriasis?
The exact cause is not known. However, there may be a combination of factors including genetics. It is common for psoriasis to be found in members of the some family-and environment. Most researchers agree that the immune system is somehow mistakenly triggered, which speeds up the growth cycle of skin cells. Abnormal skin cell matures and falls off the body’s surface in 28 to 30 days. But a psoriatic skin cell takes only three to four to mature and move to the surface. Instead of falling off, the cells pile up and form the lesions.

How is psoriasis diagnosed?
The healthcare provider usually examines the affected skin and decides if it is from psoriasis. Sometimes the physician examines a piece of skin (biopsy) under the mid-crop. Psoriasis usually looks like red or pink areas of thickened, raised and dry skin. It may be small flattened bumps, large thick plaques of raised skin, red patches and pink mildly dry skin to big flakes of dry skin that flake off. Sometimes pulling one of these small dry white flakes of the skin causes a tiny blood spot on the skin. This is medically referred to as a special diagnostic sign in psoriasis called the Auspitz sign.

Genital lesions especially on the head of the penis, are common. Psoriasis in moist areas like the naval or between the buttocks may look like flat red patches. These uncommon appearances may be confused with other skin infections, skin irritations, or bacterial infections. 

On the nails, it can look like very small pits (pinpoint depressions or white spots on the nail) or as larger yellowish-brown separations of the nail bed called “oil spots.” Nail psoriasis may be confused wit and incorrectly diagnosed as fungal nail infection. 

On the scalp, it may look like severe dandruff with dry flakes and red patches of skin. It may be difficult to tell the difference between scalp psoriasis and dandruff. However the treatment is often very similar for both conditions.

The diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis is typically made by a physician’s examination, medical history, and relevant family history. Sometime, lab taste and x-rays may be used to determine the severity of the disease and to exclude other diagnosis like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

What treatments are best for psoriasis? 
The unpredictable nature of psoriasis makes treatment challenging for many people. A wide range of treatment is available but no single treatment works for every one thus it’s very important to work with your doctor to find a treatment that will work for you. 

Facts on psoriasis
  • It is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. 
  • Has no known cause.
  • The tendency towards developing psoriasis is inherited in genes.
  • It’s not contagious.
  • It gets better and worse spontaneous and can have periodic remissions.
  • It’s controllable with medication.
  • It has no comprehensive cure at the moment.
  • There are many promising therapies including newer biologic drugs. 
  • Future research for psoriasis is promising. 

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