Psoriasis is a commonly occurring long-term skin problem which shows up as thick flaky patches of skin that looks white, red or silvery. These patches on skin surface called plaques are formed due to quick abnormal growth of epidermal skin cells. Frequently affected areas are elbows, hands, feet, knees, back and scalp. Patches can be small or big and in any shape with marked edges – look scaly in some areas and varying shades of red in some areas.
Who can be affected?
Adults of both sexes are commonly affected by psoriasis, but teens and kids also get it. Psoriasis affects about 2-3% of world population. Young adults as well people in their sixties and seventies are prone to psoriasis but it is difficult to predict when a person may develop psoriasis. It is not contagious – it does not spread from one part of the body to another by touch or from one person to another.
Causes for psoriasis
Causes for psoriasis is genetic/hereditary disease. Recently conducted research shows psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. Abnormally active T-cells are known to cause the redness and flaky skin patches. Family history is a strong factor especially for early onset. Statistics shows that risk of getting psoriasis is about 65% if both parents had psoriasis and about 28 % if one parent had psoriasis.
Possible triggers for psoriasis break-out are plenty and varied. Diet does not have any effect on psoriasis. A few triggers that can cause new onset or flare-up of existing psoriasis are –
- Smoking (especially in women)
- Certain drugs
- Strong sunlight
- Pregnancy (especially after delivery)
- Throat infection
Types of psoriasis
Some commonly occurring types of psoriasis are
- Erythrodermic (also known as exfoliative psoriasis)
- Inverse (also known as flexural psoriasis/intertriginous psoriasis)
- Plaque (also known as psoriasis vulgaris)
- Pustular psoriasis
No special diagnostic tests are required for diagnosis. Usually a doctor/dermatologist takes a look at the patches, scalp, skin and nail and will confirm the diagnosis.
There is no cure for psoriasis and skin care is the first line of treatment for disease control. Psoriasis is a lifetime condition, and it needs a lifetime treatment plan. Psoriasis is more of a social embarrassment, but relatively harmless. Due to prejudice against it, patient’s quality of life suffers. Educating public about psoriasis and its triggers is essential.