Psoriasis is a condition of the skin that causes the appearance of red, flaky patches formed by increased production and speed of skin cell replacement.
It is not contagious but is a chronic condition that cannot be cured and is likely to recur. Psoriasis can affect anywhere on the body including the nails and eyes; it can affect a small area or cover a large amount of the skin. It usually presents in patches that are referred to as plaques.
Psoriasis is usually a hereditary condition and usually starts during the later stages of puberty. It can also develop after trauma to the skin such as a cut or a burn, and may result from a throat infection.
Certain medications may trigger psoriasis as can large amounts of psychological stress. These factors may cause a minor occurrence to develop into a greater problem.
Types of Psoriasis
There are 5 different types of psoriasis, each having its own identity and characteristics:-
- Psoriasis Vulgaris/ Plaque Psoriasis: patches of red thickened skin that are covered with a silver flaky coating, usually found around the elbows and knees.
- Guttate Psoriasis: occurs all over the body, normally a series of small patches, most common after a throat infection.
- Flexural Psoriasis: shiny and red patches that occur around skin folds, commonly seen under the breasts, between buttocks and around the groin.
- Pustular Psoriasis: pus filled circular patches, found on the palms of the hands and on the soles of the feet.
- Scalp Psoriasis: self- explanatory, this form is found on the scalp and around the hair line.
Treatments For Psoriasis
Although there is no cure for psoriasis, there are some ways of trying to reduce the symptoms, occasionally enough to allow the sufferer periods of relief:
- Soap and detergent substitutes can be used to avoid contact with the harsh chemical irritants of normal soaps. Oils and moisturising agents should be used to keep dry, tough skin softened and more hydrated. These can be used in the bathwater or straight afterwards to ensure maximum moisture levels are retained.
- Special shampoos containing tar help to reduce dryness, with many preparations including anti-inflammatory properties.
- Specialists recommend the use of products enriched with vitamin D as this is known for its benefits in maintaining healthy skin.
- If you have large areas of flaking, tough skin, products containing salicylic acid can help to shed these extra skin cells.
- Allowing your skin exposure to sunshine (not over-exposure to bright sun in the summer months), in natural daylight helps to keep skin healthy, as does the use of artificial UV light that can be obtained through a salon.
- When drying the skin, do not vigorously rub but pat dry to allow for water absorption to take place.
- Wear cotton fabrics not synthetics next to the skin to reduce irritations.
- Partaking in relaxation therapy may help reduce stress and alleviate symptoms.
Psoriasis can affect many people in many ways. It is not a contagious disorder, but can have detrimental effects on sufferers’ self-esteem and confidence. Psoriasis should be assessed and treated when first indication is experienced to try and prevent it deteriorating further.