We usually think of skin cell rejuvenation as a positive thing, and it usually is. However, like all things in life, balance is necessary. If skin cells renew and emerge too quickly, psoriasis can result. In psoriasis patients, the process can be as short as a few days. Skin cells accumulate on the surface of the skin because they simply emerge too quickly. This results in the redness, coarseness, scaly texture, and silvery surface we associate with psoriasis.
Psoriasis patients suffer from soreness and itchiness in the affected areas. The most common places flare-ups occur are the scalp, face, feet (the soles), hands (the palms), legs (especially on the knees), and lower back. Other areas of the body patches can appear are inside the mouth, nails, and the genital area.
Who is Most Likely to Develop Psoriasis?
Psoriasis most often arises in adults, in many cases those with a genetic predisposition to the condition. However, it is important to remember that while some people have a greater risk, anyone can develop the condition. Gender does not seem to have any effect on risk.
Causes of the Condition
The root cause of psoriasis is a malfunction of the immune system. T cells, which fuel the body’s immune defenses, are put into overdrive. This, in turn, causes other damaging responses of the immune system, which trigger the aforementioned dysfunctional skin cell turnover rate and skin swelling. Psoriasis is an unpredictable condition, and patients find their skin improves and worsens seemingly with no real reasons. There are factors, however, that can worsen the condition’s manifestations. These include dry and cold weather, stress, specific medications, and infections.
Diagnosis of the Condition
Diagnosis usually requires examination of skin cells under a microscope. Generally, psoriasis is very difficult to diagnose at sight, as other skin diseases can resemble it.
Treatment of Psoriasis
Psoriasis requires an individualized treatment plan. A number of different treatments and/or combinations of treatments are often tried before the doctor and patient arrive at the ideal solution. The treatments the doctor will start with are usually determined by the disease’s severity, the patches’ sizes and extent, and the type of psoriasis. The doctor will be guided by the patient’s response to the different treatments tried.
Types of Treatment
There are three main categories of treatment: topical, light, and systemic. It is also sometimes beneficial to use a combination of types, which can minimize the needed dose of each type and be generally more effective overall.
As suggested by its name, topical treatment involves creams and ointments applied to the skin. These treatments tend to be effective in soothing inflammation, removing damaging cell layers, weakening negative immune system response, and slowing cell turnover.
Light therapy involves the use of natural ultraviolet light from the sun as well as artificial ultraviolet light. PUVA is a treatment that combines the use of a medication that increases skin light sensitivity and ultraviolet A light.
Hope for the Future
There is a great deal of study being conducted on psoriasis, especially in the areas of genes and their effect, treatments that strengthen skin against the immune systems’ assaults, and psoriasis’ connection to other health problems such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.