We all want to look young and beautiful with glowing skin for as long as possible. However, sometimes there are certain skin conditions that can get in the way. Psoriasis is a very common skin ailment. Let’s take a look at this condition’s causes and the treatment.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition which causes extra cells to build up quickly on the surface of the skin. The skin cell production process is much faster than usual and the white blood cells, which are known as T cells, unwittingly attack the skin cells. Under normal circumstances these cells are used to attack unwanted bacteria and fight infections, however, in this case this mistaken attack causes skin production to go into overdrive.
Normally, skin cells grow deep in the skin and slowly rise to the surface and then fall off. The life cycle of a skin cell is typically one month, however, in people with psoriasis this process takes a matter of days. Thus, the skin cells do not have enough time to fall off causing the over production of skin cells. This causes scales and patches, as well as itching and redness, which can be very uncomfortable.
These patches can develop on most areas of the body but most commonly on the joints, such as the elbows and knees. Other commons areas include hands, feet, face neck and scalp.
The main symptoms of this condition include:
- Red patches of skin
- Skin has silvery scales
- Dry and cracked skin which can bleed
- Burning sensation
- Thick or ridged nails
- Stiff joints
Psoriasis can cover both small and large areas of the body. It can also go through stages, so it can be ongoing for a few weeks or months and then stop completely for certain periods of time.
There are different kinds of psoriasis which include the following:
Plaque psoriasis causes dry, red raised skin lesions (known as plaques) with silvery scales. It can be found anywhere on the body including the mouth. The lesions can be very painful and itchy, and can cover both small and large areas.
Nail Psoriasis causes abnormal nail growth, where nails will be pitted or discoloured. In some cases the nails might loosen from the nail bed and crumble.
Inverse psoriasis mainly affects skin surrounding the armpits, groin and breast area and around the genitals. This type of psoriasis causes smooth patches of red and inflamed skin which only gets worse in combination with sweat and friction.
Psoriasis arthritis is a combination of red and inflamed skin together with stiff and painful joints. Sometimes this type of psoriasis occurs without any skin inflammation.
There are certain factors which also put one at a higher risk for psoriasis, some of which are beyond our control.
- People who have HIV or suffer from frequent infections (especially throat or skin infections) or high levels of stress have a lower tolerance for this condition, which makes them more susceptible to it.
- Your family history can increase your risk, so if one or both of your parents suffer from this condition, the higher your risk will be.
- Anything that injures the skin such as scratches, bug bites or sunburn.
- People who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk for psoriasis, as in most cases the skin lesions form in skin creases or folds.
- Smoking can cause psoriasis and increase its severity.
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- Vitamin D deficiency.
- Certain medications, such as those for high blood pressure or those against malaria.
There are treatments that can help to ease the discomfort of psoriasis even though there is no known cure.
Some of these treatments include topical ointments or steroid-based creams which aid the shedding of the scales, decreasing inflammation and itching, and block the production of the skin cells. Doctors can also prescribe oral medications or injections which may help the symptoms. However, all these treatments come with possible side effects and you should always consult your doctor before you use or discontinue any treatments prescribed.
There are also some other natural remedies that can assist in easing the discomfort:
- Research has shown that many sufferers experience relief after consistently using vitamins high in fish oil and vitamin D which can help decrease the inflammation.
- Using sea salts or oatmeal has also been known to help reduce itching and removing scales.
Psoriasis is not a pleasant condition to have to live with, however, there are treatments available to ease the symptoms. If you do suffer from this condition, try to make healthy lifestyle changes to help alleviate any unpleasant symptoms. In addition, always remember to consult your doctor for advice.