“Dr Irena´s” Health Tips – No.11
Irena Hulson is continuing with her series of health tips, which have been very well received by our readers, especially those who can relate to certain of the topics covered and we hope to receive and publish more in the future for your information. If there is a particular topic you would like to see published please let us know and we will ask Irena to see what she can find on the subject.
By Irena Hulson
Psoriasis is a non-contagious common skin condition that causes rapid skin cell reproduction resulting in red, dry patches of thickened skin. The dry flakes and skin scales result from the rapid buildup of skin cells. Psoriasis commonly affects the skin of the elbows, knees, and scalp.
Although psoriasis can be seen in people of any age, from babies to seniors, most commonly patients are first diagnosed in their early adult years. Some people have such mild psoriasis (small, faint dry skin patches) that they may not even suspect that they have a medical skin condition. Others have very severe psoriasis where virtually 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 and worsening.
The exact cause of psoriasis remains unknown. There may be a combination of risk factors, including genetic predisposition and environmental factors. It is common for psoriasis to be found in members of the same family. The immune system is thought to play a major role. Despite research over the past 30 years looking at many triggers, the “master switch” that turns on psoriasis is still a mystery.
Psoriasis typically looks like red or pink areas of thickened, raised, and dry skin. It classically affects areas over the elbows, knees, and scalp. Essentially any body area may be involved. It tends to be more common in areas of trauma, repeat rubbing, use, or abrasions.
Psoriasis vulgaris is the medical name for the most common form of psoriasis (“vulgaris” means common). About 80% of people with psoriasis have this type. It is also called plaque psoriasis because of the characteristic plaques on the skin: well-defined patches of red raised skin that can appear on any area of skin, although the knees, elbows, scalp, trunk, and nails are the most common locations. The flaky silvery white buildup on top of the plaques is called scale; it is composed of dead skin cells. This scale comes loose and sheds constantly from the plaques.
Guttate psoriasis is a type of psoriasis that looks like small, salmon-pink drops on the skin. The word guttate is derived from the Latin word gutta, meaning drop. Usually there is a fine scale on the drop-like lesion that is much finer than the scales in plaque psoriasis, the most common type of psoriasis. The trigger to the disease is often a preceding streptococcal (bacterial) infection. The eruption of the lesions on the skin usually happens about two to three weeks after the person has strep throat. The outbreak can go away and not reoccur.
Inverse psoriasis consists of bright red, smooth (not scaly) patches found in the folds of the skin. The most common areas are under the breasts, in the armpits, near the genitals, under the buttocks, or in abdominal folds. These irritated and inflamed areas are aggravated by the sweat and skin rubbing together in the folds. Yeast overgrowth, common in skin folds, may trigger the skin lesions of psoriasis.
Pustule psoriasis is an uncommon form of psoriasis. People with pustule psoriasis have clearly defined, raised bumps on the skin that are filled with pus (pustules). The skin under and around these bumps is reddish. Pustule psoriasis may cause large portions of your skin to redden. The skin changes that occur before, during, or after an episode of pustule psoriasis can be similar to those of regular psoriasis.
This is the least common type of psoriasis and can be quite serious. A very large area of the body, if not most of the body, is bright red and inflamed. The body can appear to be covered in a peeling red rash. The rash usually itches or burns.
Psoriasis of the Scalp
The scalp may have fine, dry, scaly skin orhave heavily crusted plaque areas. The plaque can flake off or peel off in crusted clumps. Sometimes psoriasis of the scalp is confused with seborrheic dermatitis. A key difference is that in seborrheic dermatitis, the scales are greasy looking, not dry.
Psoriatic arthritis is a specific condition in which a person has both psoriasis and arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis is an auto-immune disease, meaning that the immune system is misdirected to cause inflammation of one’s own tissues. Rarely, a person can have psoriatic arthritis without having skin psoriasis. Moreover, the arthritis can precede the psoriasis by months or years, or present after years of psoriasis.
Psoriasis of the Nails
Yes, psoriasis may involve solely the nails. More commonly, the nail symptoms accompany the skin and arthritis symptoms. Nails affected by psoriasis can have small pinpoint pits or large yellowish separations of the nail plate called “oil spots.” Nail psoriasis is typically very difficult to treat, but it can respond to medications taken internally to treat psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis is not contagious but it can be inherited from parents it does tend to run in some families like eczema. A family history is important to your doctor when making a diagnosis.
There isn’t one topical drug that is best for all people with psoriasis. Because each drug has specific adverse effects or loses potency over time, it is common to rotate them. Sometimes topical preparations are combined together. Some topical steroid creams work for a short period of time, SYSTEMIC drugs also help, these are drugs taken by injection.
Ultraviolet is also used to treat psoriasis in the form of an ultraviolet light lamp, Vitamin D and Zinc are also helpful so too is evening primrose oil. Dead sea salt baths can help in a lot of cases, so too can natural sun light, small doses of sun bathing is good.
Whilst it is not curable you can keep it under control, Try not to get stressed as this is a trigger, and watch your chemical food intake, especially E numbers.
Editor’s Note “The opinions, advice or proposals within the article are purely those of the author and do not, in any way, represent those of this website”