What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis (sore-I-ah-sis) is a common immune-mediated chronic skin disease that comes in different forms and varying levels of severity. Most researchers now conclude that it is related to the immune system (psoriasis is often called an "immune-mediated" disorder). It is not contagious. In general, it is a condition that is frequently found on the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet or lower back but psoriasis can often appear on the face, arms and legs as well. Many treatments are available to help manage its symptoms. More than 4.5 million adults in the United States have it to some extent, almost two percent of the United States. Psoriasis can also cause serious complications. Between 10 percent and 30 percent of people with psoriasis also develop a related form of arthritis, called psoriatic (sore-ee-AA-tic) arthritis. The National Psoriasis Foundation has gathered the information to help educate people about this complex disease, including its appearance, symptoms and medical and social effects. We recommend visiting their site.
Psoriasis generally appears as patches of raised red skin covered by a flaky white buildup. In certain kinds of psoriasis, it also has a pimple-ish (pustular psoriasis) or burned (erythrodermic) appearance. Psoriasis can also cause intense itching and burning and may bleed easily when scraped or scratched. Researchers believe the immune system sends faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle in skin cells. Certain people carry genes that make them more likely to develop psoriasis, but not everyone with these genes develops psoriasis. Instead, a "trigger" makes the psoriasis appear in those who have these genes. Also, some triggers may work together to cause an outbreak of psoriasis; this makes it difficult to identify individual factors. Possible psoriasis triggers for psoriasis may include; severe emotional stress, injury to the skin like serious sun burns, serious systemic infections and reaction to certain drugs.
Once the disease is triggered, the skin cells pile up on the surface of the body faster than normal. In people without psoriasis, skin cells mature and are shed about every 28 days. In psoriatic skin, the skin cells move rapidly up to the surface of the skin over three to six days. The body can't shed the skin cells fast enough and this process results in patches also called "lesions" forming on the skin's surface. There is no blood test for psoriasis. Physicians usually diagnose it by examining the affected skin. Less often, a small piece of skin affected by the psoriasis is cut out and examined under a microscope. Psoriasis is a genetic disease. A family association exists in one out of three cases. It often appears between ages 15 and 35, but it can develop at any age. About 10 percent to 15 percent of those with psoriasis get it before age 10, and occasionally it appears in infancy.
Psoriasis is not contagious-no one can "catch" it from another person. However this fact is not known to all and other people may assume it is. Psoriasis is measured in terms of its physical and emotional impact. Physically, if less then 2 percent of the body is involved, the case is considered mild. Between 3 and 10 percent is considered moderate, and more than 10 percent is severe. (The palm of one hand equals 1 percent.) Psoriasis also is measured by its impact on quality of life. When psoriasis involves the hands and feet, it may also be considered severe because of how it affects a person's ability to function. Or, if a person's psychological or emotional well-being is considerably affected, the psoriasis may also be considered severe. There are five different types of psoriasis. The most common form of psoriasis is called "plaque psoriasis," which is characterized by well-defined patches of red, raised skin. About 80 percent of people with psoriasis have this type. Plaque psoriasis can appear on any skin surface, although the knees, elbows, scalp, trunk and nails are the most common locations. The other types of psoriasis are: Guttate: small, red, individual drops on the skin. Inverse: smooth, dry areas of skin, often in folds or creases, that are red and inflamed but do not have scaling. Erythrodermic: periodic, widespread, fiery redness of the skin. Pustular: involves either generalized, widespread areas of reddened skin, or localized areas, particularly the hands and feet (palmo-plantar pustular psoriasis).
Typically, people have only one form of psoriasis at a time. Sometimes two different types can occur together, one type may change to another type, or one type may become more severe. For example, a trigger may convert plaque psoriasis to pustular. Although the reasons for the changes are not well understood, some triggers may include abrupt withdrawal of medications; an allergic, drug-induced rash that brings on the Koebner response (psoriasis appearing on the site of skin injuries); and severe sun burning. The different types of psoriasis not only have different appearances, but also may require different types of treatment. It is very important that you talk with your physician about what course of action to take with your type of psoriasis.
The most irritating locations for psoriasis are:
- Scalp: Scalp psoriasis occurs in at least half of all people with psoriasis. It can range from very mild with fine scaling to very severe with thick, crusted plaques.
- Genitals: Genital psoriasis acts similar to other affected parts of the body. But because of the sensitivity of the skin, this type may require special considerations.
- Hands and Feet: Pustular psoriasis can impair a person's ability to work. Plaque psoriasis can dry out the skin and cause cracking and bleeding.
- Nails: Nail changes occur in about half of those with psoriasis and 80 percent of those with psoriatic arthritis. The nails may have small holes (pitting), a changed shape (deformation), separation from the skin (oncholyosis) and discoloration.
Corrective or concealing makeup can only deal with the discoloration
of skin due to psoriasis. Use will may need the help of dermatologist to get prescription steriods or
vitamin D analog creams. Often hot bathing and lubricating preparations may help you smooth and exfoliate the raised areas. Once the skin is smooth and red corrective makeup can help present a
near perfect skin appearance.
(Information resources include....www.psoriasis.org)