Description of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a long-lasting, inflammatory skin disease. It is not contagious but has a tendency to run in families. It affects 0.6% to 4.8% of the population. Age groups commonly affected are 10 to 20 and 50 to 60 years. Early onset disease has a poorer prognosis. Age, gender, geography, and ethnicity are important determining factors in the prevalence.
Causes and Risk Factors
The immune system seems to play a key role in causing psoriasis. It is believed that some triggers activate the person's immune system which mistakenly activates T cells, a type of white blood cell. Once activated, the T cells cause inflammation. Ideally, the skin replaces itself about every 30 days, however, in psoriasis, this happens in 3 to 4 days.
Common risk factors are:
1. Immune response of an individual
5. Injury or an infection, such as bacterial throat infection
6. Certain medicines, such as interferon and lithium or beta-blockers
Signs and Symptoms
1. Small or large skin pink patches
2. Presence of flaky skin (scaling)
3. Presence of pus filled boils (pustular psoriasis)
4. The patches may be symmetrical (guttate psoriasis) and are generally seen over large joints.
5. Rarely, the entire body may have redness and scaling, associated with fever and internal organ.
1. Medical treatment includes:
a) Topical creams and ointments containing cortisone compounds, retinoids, tar, or anthralin may be used in combination with natural sunlight or another ultraviolet (UV) light treatment.
b) Oral or injectable medications with or without UV light treatment may be required in the more severe forms of psoriasis.
d) Corticosteroids (cortisone) creams, ointments, and lotions may clear the skin temporarily and control the condition in many patients.
2. Light therapy ultraviolet (UV) light, which is found in sunlight, slows the rapid growth of skin cells.
3. Systemic therapies such as:
4. Surgical treatment
Complications and When Should You See a Doctor
1. Complications due to long-term use of local steroid creams can cause:
a) Thinning of the skin
b) Appearance of fine veins
c) Contact allergy
2. Complications due to oral intake of steroids can cause:
a) Immune suppression
b) Weight gain
1. Your doctor may examine your skin, nails, and scalp.
2. A skin biopsy may be taken to confirm the diagnosis.
Frequently Asked Questions about Psoriasis
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