Psoriasis: Symptoms, Types, and Treatments
Over eighty different autoimmune diseases can target the body, psoriasis is amongst the most common. Autoimmune diseases are the result of abnormal or irregular immune responses, and in the case of psoriasis the skin is affected, with redness, rashes and scaly skin all symptomatic of the condition.
Psoriasis is well known because it affects around 3 of all people at some point, regardless of age. It’s a persistent problem that can be hard to eliminate entirely, and can also fluctuate in severity. The symptoms of psoriasis are typical of many immune-mediated inflammatory diseases, although each one has its own characteristics. Psoriasis often appears as scaly thick skin and there are several subtypes that can present on different parts of the body.
Like most diseases, psoriasis is influenced by inherited characteristics. Up to 50 people with psoriasis will know of another affected family member. Patients with a family history of psoriasis tend to develop psoriasis earlier in life than those without a family history. Other factors that can trigger psoriasis includes stress, infections and injury to the skin.
Many psoriasis studies have noted many affected patients to be overweight or obese. Psoriasis is associated with a greater risk of ischaemic heart disease (angina and heart attack), stroke and peripheral vascular disease.
Symptoms of psoriasis
The visible symptoms of psoriasis include red skin that is inflamed and possibly thickened. The scaly plaques have defined edges of a silver-white colour, although in some parts of the body psoriasis may be moist and peeling. The itchiness associated with psoriasis is usually mild, although there are exceptions, as with many skin ailments. Cracked skin can also be very painful if left untreated. Fortunately, solutions prescribed by Pymble Dermatology can combat psoriasis, greatly minimising or eradicating symptoms that would persist without treatment.
Types of psoriasis
- Plaque psoriasis: Often represented by red skin that is covered with loose silver-white scales. It can be quite itchy and even painful, with cracked skin and bleeding sometimes experienced. Usually appearing as clusters, plaque psoriasis outbreaks can merge and cover larger areas of the body in more extreme cases. Plaque psoriasis can affect fingernails and toenails, often noticed as discolouration, crumbling or pitting. It can cause nails to become detached. The scalp is also an area targeted by plaque psoriasis.
- Pustular psoriasis: Symptoms usually manifest as scaly red skin and small pustules on the hands and feet.
- Guttate psoriasis: Usually commences in childhood or youth, and is often noticeable as small spots on the torso, arms and legs. Potential triggers include infection, stress, injury and adverse reaction to certain medications.
- Inverse psoriasis: This usually appears within skinfolds of the body including the armpits, groin and breast folds. Inverse psoriasis lesions are red, shiny and quite distinct.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: Skin appears fiery and scales may shed in sheets. Causes include adverse reaction to medications, severe sunburn and infection.
Discomfort or disfigurement caused by psoriasis can be treated, although there is no single cure for the ailment. Pymble Dermatology can provide the full spectrum of medical therapies to help clear up the condition.
Although psoriasis treatments are effective, the causes are varied. An experienced dermatologist will rule out unrelated ailments, determine the cause or aggravating factor, and provide the necessary recovery pathway.
Psoriasis responds well when targeted by the appropriate medication or treatment. It’s also understood that lifestyle choices such as not smoking, reducing alcohol intake and maintaining a reasonable level of fitness can greatly assist in the fight against the disease.
In mild cases, topical agents are often very beneficial. Specific medications such as emollients, salicylic acid and topical corticosteroids may be prescribed according to the severity of the condition. Ultraviolet phototherapy is another recovery pathway worth considering and is often used in tandem with topical treatments.
In moderate to severe cases of psoriasis a systemic agent that targets the whole body can be administered. Targeted therapies of biologics are another alternative, especially if conventional treatments are having little affect.
Psoriasis can be treated effectively, providing relief from symptoms and allowing patients to experience a much better quality of life.