Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that affects roughly 2 percent of the population, or around 7.5 million people in the United States alone. Often characterized by red, scaly patches of skin, psoriasis can be uncomfortable and unsightly. In this article, we will look closely at psoriasis, its causes, symptoms and treatment options.
The Causes of Psoriasis
The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, but the immune system and genetics are thought to play a role. Typically, the immune system aims to protect the body against harmful substances, such as viruses or bacteria. However, in the case of psoriasis, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, causing them to multiply too quickly. The excess skin cells then build up, causing patches to form on the skin, which can be unsightly, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful.
In addition to genetics and immune system dysfunction, other factors such as stress, skin injuries, infections, and certain medications may trigger or exacerbate psoriasis symptoms.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
The symptoms of psoriasis can vary in severity and type, depending on the individual and their type of psoriasis. In general, symptoms include:
- Red, scaly patches of skin
- Itching, burning, or soreness in affected areas
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- Thickened, discolored, or pitted nails
Psoriasis can affect any part of the body, including the scalp, nails, and joints. It can also come and go in cycles of flare-ups and remission.
Diagnosis of Psoriasis
Diagnosing psoriasis can be challenging, as it can be easily confused with other skin conditions. A dermatologist will typically make a diagnosis of psoriasis based on a visual examination of the skin, and by taking a medical history of the patient. In some cases, a biopsy may be taken and examined under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment Options for Psoriasis
There is no cure for psoriasis, but various treatments are available to manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life of those affected. Treatment options may differ depending on the type and severity of psoriasis, so consulting with a dermatologist is important in determining the most effective plan.
Some common treatment options for psoriasis include:
- Topical creams or ointments: Medication-based treatments applied directly to the skin can help reduce inflammation and slow the growth of skin cells.
- Light therapy: Also known as phototherapy, this treatment involves exposing the affected skin to ultraviolet light, which can help reduce inflammation. This can be done under the guidance of a dermatologist or using a specialized light therapy device.
- Oral or injected medication: In more severe cases, oral or injected medications that target the immune system can help manage symptoms.
Using Medicated Products for Effective Psoriasis Treatment
Medicated products, including cleansers, shampoos, and moisturizers, can be effective in managing psoriasis symptoms. Some of the most common active ingredients found in these products include salicylic acid, coal tar, and urea. Salicylic acid reduces scaling, coal tar slows the growth of skin cells, and urea helps soften and moisturize the skin.
It is important to choose the right products and use them consistently as directed, to maintain symptom relief. Short-term relief or improvement may be seen initially with the use of over-the-counter products, but if an individual’s condition is more severe, prescription topicals or light therapy may be recommended.
The Bottom Line
While psoriasis can be a challenging condition to manage, a variety of treatment options are available to improve the symptoms and enhance the quality of life of those affected. Identifying symptom triggers and a combination of treatments that work best for each individual are crucial in achieving the best possible outcome. Seeking the advice and guidance of a dermatologist is essential in creating an effective treatment plan and managing the condition over time.
The Editorial Team at Lake Oconee Health is made up of skilled health and wellness writers and experts, led by Daniel Casciato who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We aim to provide our readers with valuable insights and guidance to help them lead healthier and happier lives.