Psoriasis: symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of the disease

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that means your body’s immune system starts to overextend and cause problems

Psoriasis overview


Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease in which skin cells multiply faster than usual. This causes patches of skin to become scaly and inflamed.

Psoriasis is chronic, which means it is a long-term condition. However, certain treatments can improve your skin and help prevent flare-ups. Over time, your skin may become resistant to treatment, so you may need to change your treatments periodically.

If you have psoriasis, you are more likely to get some other conditions, including:

• Psoriatic arthritis, a condition that causes joint pain and swelling.
• Cardiovascular problems that affect the heart and circulatory system.
• Obesity.
• High blood pressure.
• Diabetes.

Types of psoriasis


There are several different types of psoriasis. Here are some examples:

• Plaque psoriasis, which causes patches of skin that are red at the base and covered with silvery scales.
• Guttate psoriasis, which causes small guttural lesions on the trunk, limbs, and scalp. This type of psoriasis is most commonly caused by upper respiratory tract infections such as strep throat.
• Pustular psoriasis, which causes pus-filled blisters. Outbreaks can be triggered by drugs, infections, stress, or certain chemicals.
• Inverse psoriasis, which causes smooth red patches in the folds of skin near the genitals, under the breast, or in the armpits. Rubbing and sweating can make this type of psoriasis worse.
• Erythrodermic psoriasis, which causes redness and flaking of the skin over most of the body. This could be a reaction to sunburn or taking certain medications such as corticosteroids. It can also happen if you have a different type of psoriasis that is poorly controlled. This type of psoriasis can be very serious, so if you have it, you should see your doctor right away.

Psoriasis symptoms


Psoriasis usually causes patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales that itch or feel pain. These spots can appear anywhere on your body, but they usually appear on your elbows, knees, legs, scalp, lower back, face, palms, and soles of your feet. They can also appear on your fingernails and nails, genitals, and mouth.

Causes of psoriasis


Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, which means that your body’s immune system starts to overextend and cause problems. If you have psoriasis, a type of white blood cell called T cells becomes so active that it triggers other immune system responses, including swelling and rapid skin cell changes.

Your skin cells grow deep in your skin and slowly rise to the surface. This is called cell turnover and usually takes about a month. However, if you have psoriasis, it may take only a few days for your cells to turn over. Your skin cells rise up too quickly and build up on the surface, causing your skin to look red and scaly.

Many people with psoriasis have a family history of the disease, and researchers have found that several genes are associated with psoriasis.

Some things that can trigger an outbreak include:

• Infections.
• Stress.
• Changes in the weather that dry out your skin.
• Certain medications.
• Injuries to the skin, such as cuts, scrapes, or sunburn.

Diagnostics of the psoriasis


Psoriasis can be difficult to diagnose because it often resembles other skin conditions. Your doctor may take a small sample of your skin for examination under a microscope.

Photo from Pixabay.com

Psoriasis treatment


There are several different treatments for psoriasis. Your doctor will work with you to decide which treatment is best for you, taking into account the type of psoriasis you have on your body, which treatment helps the most, and the possible side effects of the medications.

People respond differently to treatment, so you may have to try several different treatments before finding one that works for you. Over time, your skin may become resistant to treatment, especially if you are using corticosteroids, so you may need to change your treatment over time.

Your doctor may recommend that you try one of these courses, or a combination of them:

• Topical treatment with creams or ointments such as corticosteroids, vitamin D3, retinoids, coal tar, or anthralin.
• Light therapy or phototherapy, in which the doctor shines ultraviolet light on the skin or receives more sunlight. It is important for a doctor to prescribe therapy, as too much UV light can damage your skin, increase your risk of skin cancer, and worsen your symptoms.
• Systemic treatment, which may include taking prescription drugs or injecting drugs. These procedures can have serious side effects, so it is important to consult with your doctor and make an appointment to keep you under control.

Here are some medications used to treat psoriasis.

o Retinoids are compounds with properties similar to vitamin A. They may help some people with severe psoriasis who do not respond to other treatments. However, they can also cause birth defects.
o Cyclosporine, which suppresses the immune system to slow down cellular metabolism. It can also impair kidney function or cause high blood pressure, so patients should be monitored by a doctor.
o Methotrexate also suppresses the immune system by slowing down cell turnover. It can be taken as a pill or as an injection. It can also damage the liver and reduce the production of blood cells and platelets, so the patient should be monitored by a doctor.
o PDE4 inhibitors. Taken orally, phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibits target molecules within immune cells to suppress rapid skin cell turnover and inflammation.
o Biological response modifiers – injections made from proteins produced by living cells. They suppress the processes of the immune system that cause skin cell overproduction and inflammation. Because they suppress the immune system, it increases the risk of infection and can interfere with patients taking vaccines. They are also associated with several other medical conditions, so it is important for the doctor to monitor patients taking biologics.

Living with psoriasis


Psoriasis can cause significant discomfort and impair basic functions, including work and sleep. Medical care can be expensive. In addition, scaly patches on the skin can make some people feel self-conscious about their appearance, which can lead to depression.

However, treatment can help reduce the symptoms of psoriasis. In addition to making regular visits to your doctor, you can try to manage your symptoms:

• Keep the skin well hydrated. Some bath solutions and lubricants can help soothe your skin.
• Stay healthy in general.
• Join support groups or counseling to help you understand that you are not alone in dealing with psoriasis and to share ideas on how to cope with the disease.

Research progress related to psoriasis


Researchers continue to study the causes of psoriasis, treatment, and other diseases associated with this disease.

• Some researchers are studying how skin cells are formed in healthy skin. Others look at what causes skin lesions. If we understand these mechanisms better, we can design better treatments.
• Genes play a role in determining who gets psoriasis, so researchers are trying to figure out which genes are associated with the disease and how it is inherited in families.
• Some researchers study the nervous system to determine the cause of pain and itching in psoriasis.
• Other researchers are looking for ways to calm the immune system by blocking the activity of T cells or proteins that contribute to inflammation.
• Patients with psoriasis may be at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, and researchers are trying to figure out why.

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