There are countless skin conditions that have a significant impact on both your self-esteem and your physical comfort. Acne, eczema, rosacea, and moles can all certainly disrupt your daily life and your general well-being. So can psoriasis, which is a skin condition that affects an estimated 7.5 million Americans. What makes this condition challenging is that there are several different kinds and its causes are very much a mystery. That said, it can be successfully treated by dermatologists. We’re answering some frequently asked questions pertaining to psoriasis in today’s post. We hope the following information can offer you both comfort and hope.
What is psoriasis?
Although it’s treated by skin care specialists, psoriasis is actually a chronic immune system disease. It causes inflammation to the skin tissue and results in the rapid production of skin cells. While skin cells are normally replaced every 28 to 30 days, psoriasis causes new skin cells to develop every few days. This results in skin cell buildup, which appears in a scale-like texture on different areas of the body such as the scalp, knees, elbows, feet, and hands (and even the mouth, back, and genitalia in some cases).
What causes this skin condition?
Frustratingly for both skin doctors and those who suffer from this condition, its exact origins are not yet known. Most experts believe that psoriasis has a genetic component or that it may be caused by environmental factors. Infections, skin injuries, medications, smoking, and other considerations may trigger the condition. We do know that it usually appears in individuals between the ages of 15 and 35. And while your psoriasis may clear up for lengthy periods, it cannot actually be cured.
Are there different types of psoriasis?
As dermatologists will tell you, there are several different kinds of psoriasis. Around 80% of psoriasis cases involve a type called plaque psoriasis, which is characterized by raised, red, and scaly patches on the scalp, lower back, elbows, or knees. These patches are covered in silvery scales that shed and that may be itchy and dry; they may also crack or burn.
The other forms of psoriasis are much rarer. Guttate psoriasis may start in childhood and is characterized by spots of red skin on the chest, back, arms, legs, abdomen, or scalp. It can be triggered by a bacterial or viral infection like chicken pox, strep throat, or even the common cold. Pustular psoriasis appears as red skin blisters in specific areas (like the hands, feet, or fingers) or in patches. Erythodermic psoriasis covers the majority of the body and is characterized by itchy, red, and painful skin. This type can occur suddenly or gradually and may be quite serious. Finally, inverse psoriasis actually produces smooth, dry patches of skin (often under the breasts, in the armpits, in the groin, or around the genitals and buttocks). These areas can be made worse by rubbing and sweating, causing them to become red, inflamed, itchy, and painful.
How can I tell if I have psoriasis?
You may have an inclination you’re dealing with psoriasis if treatments for other skin conditions — such as eczema or dandruff — are not successful. If you experience any of the symptoms outlined above or have a rash that’s itchy, painful, or inflamed that will not go away, you should make an appointment with dermatology specialists in your area. They will conduct a physical examination and/or a biopsy to determine whether you’re dealing with psoriasis.
Can certain conditions exacerbate psoriasis?
Each person experiences psoriasis differently, which can make it more difficult to diagnose and treat. Triggers will differ from patient to patient, as well. But we do know psoriasis may be made worse by infections, weather patterns, emotional stress, skin injuries, and certain prescriptions.
What does psoriasis treatment typically involve?
Depending on the severity and type of psoriasis, dermatologists will opt for different treatment methods. Typically, topical methods are utilized first. In some cases, phototherapy (light exposure therapy) and medication may be needed. It’s essential to discuss treatment methods with experienced dermatologists, who can create a customized plan to get your psoriasis under control; going the DIY route may make matters worse.
If you think you have psoriasis, our dermatologists are here to help. Contact us today to learn more.