What exactly is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis can be described as an inflammatory skin disease that causes increased skin cell turnover which results in thick skin cells. It is important to note that psoriasis is not contagious. The skin usually becomes inflamed causing the skin to appear pinkish in color with precise margins. Additionally, the affected skin becomes dry and irritated. Unfortunately, patients suffer from itchy skin which is debatably the most uncomfortable symptom.
How widespread is psoriasis?
According to available statistics for Singapore, almost 1-2% are afflicted by this condition. Psoriasis is one of the top ten skin diseases that are presently treated in our country.
How will I know if I have Psoriasis?
Firstly, you should be aware that psoriasis can be broken down into 5 main categories. As such, if you are to know whether you have psoriasis, you need to educate yourself on the different types. We have enumerated the common kinds below:
- Plaque Psoriasis.
This is one of the most common kind of psoriasis. It usually presents with red/pink skin patches covered with dead skin cells that are light grey in color. They usually appear on body parts:
When a person is in a flare, the plaques can become itchy and painful. They may even crack and bleed at times.
The symptoms of this type of psoriasis are as follows:
Small lesion spots
Strep throat infection (at times)
It usually starts in childhood or young adulthood. It ranks second on the list of psoriasis. According to research, about 10 % suffer from Guttate psoriasis.
- Inverse psoriasis: This type usually shows up in the folds of skins on your body. They can also affect the armpits, groin area, and at the back of the knees. They have a shiny, smooth appearance. They often take on an inflamed red hue.
- Pustular: The patient develops blisters surrounded by red skin. The blisters are filled with non-infectious inflammation or pus. The pus is filled with dead white blood cells and as such is not contagious. This type of psoriasis can appear on any area of the body. However, it usually occurs on a person’s hands and feet.
- Erythrodermic: This is considered the most acute type of psoriasis and often attacks the entire body. The skin takes on a fiery red appearance. Those who are afflicted with Erythrodermic psoriasis experiencing intense pain and itching. Often the skin peels and evidence of this can be found in bedsheets. Thankfully, it is exceedingly rare, only 3% who are diagnosed with psoriasis suffer from this particular form.
You should also be aware that psoriasis may also cause nail pitting. Severe psoriasis may also cause tenderness, joint pain, and swelling.
What causes psoriasis?
According to research genetics and psoriasis are linked and play an undeniable role in who develops psoriasis. Your environment may also trigger psoriasis causing increased skin growth due to an overactive immune system. These skin cells surface between 3-4 days instead of the usual 4 weeks.
What factors can exacerbate psoriasis?
Research has confirmed that both physical and emotional and physical stress can aggravate psoriasis. Cases of flu and throat infections may also make the disease more severe. As such you should try to keep your immune system healthy by eating a wholesome well-balanced diet. It is also advisable that you add exercise to your daily routine. Exercise plays a dual role; it both strengthens the immune system and relieves stress. Exercising outside in the sunshine can have positive effects on the condition.
Certain medications can cause a psoriasis flare. Always use your medications as directed by your doctor. It is also advised that your keep yourself hydrated with sufficient liquids and use skin creams to keep the skin moisturized to prevent dry and itchy skin.
We advise against scratching which causes aggravation. It is recommended that you use anti-itch medications and creams.
How does the doctor diagnose psoriasis?
Psoriasis is diagnosed by a physical exam. Your doctor will simply examine the affected skin and decide whether you have psoriasis or not. You will be questioned about your family history since about 1/3 of people who are diagnoses with psoriasis have a relative who also suffered from the disease.
Your doctor may take a skin sample and examine it under a microscope. If you have psoriasis it will appear thicker and inflamed. For example, eczema, another common skin condition looks different when examined by a microscope.
What are the available treatment options for psoriasis?
There a quite a few treatments to choose from, these include:
- Topic medications: These treatments are very effective in mild cases of psoriasis. These remedies usually contain topical steroids, coal tar and vitamin D. Always use these medications as prescribed by your doctor.
- Phototherapy: Ultraviolet light is employed in this treatment and has proven highly effective among psoriasis patients. Ultraviolet-B light is administered a few times a week for quite a few months. However, it should be mentioned that patients can only undergo a certain number of Ultraviolet-B treatment sessions during their lifespan.
- Oral medications: If your psoriasis does not improve using the above external treatments, you may want to try oral medications. They work by suppressing the immune system. Unfortunately, oral medications do have some serious side effects that may damage the kidney and the liver.
Is Psoriasis considered a rare skin condition?
No, it is not. It is actually diagnosed quite often. It is not contagious and cannot be spread by physical contact.
Can psoriasis be cured?
Regrettably, psoriasis has no cure. However, there is no need for despair, most patients manage their condition effectively and are able to live their lives with a high level of normalcy.
In closing, several studies have revealed that psoriasis is closely linked with other chronic medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, liver problems, and high cholesterol levels. Psoriasis should not be ignored and while you endeavor to take proper care of your skin, you should also schedule regular medical examinations. This way you can undergo blood tests to check your cholesterol and blood sugar levels if necessary.
Feel free to call, email, or visit us at the clinic, if you suspect that you may have psoriasis. Our doctors are waiting to assist you.
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