Psoriasis Awareness Month: Learn the Facts!

Psoriasis, an autoimmune disease, affects the lives of 7.5 million Americans, or 2.2 percent of the population. Around the globe, the disease affects 125 million people, and 10 to 30 percent of the global population develops psoriatic arthritis. Additionally, psoriasis disproportionately affects more Caucasians than any other race, reports the National Psoriasis Foundation®.  August is Psoriasis Awareness Month.

Let’s take a look at some common questions surrounding psoriasis.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Psoriasis causes dry, scaly patches on the skin. These patches may itch and commonly appear on the elbows, scalp, back, palms, feet and neck. You may notice reddening, drainage from the skin, the production of heat, or flaking-off of the skin in these patches. Psoriasis may appear on any area of the body, asserts the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Psoriasis is both a cosmetic and physical disease. It may cause pain or irritation and negatively impact your quality of life. By understanding psoriasis now, you will know what to do if you ever begin developing its symptoms.

PSORIASIS DIAGNOSES

Since psoriasis symptoms characterize many other skin diseases, your physician may need to rule out other skin disorders before making a psoriasis diagnosis. Your physician may take skin samples from the patchy areas for observation under a microscope as well. Unfortunately, managing psoriasis is the most common means of treating the condition, which may last from a few months to a lifetime.

CAUSE OF PSORIASIS

Psoriasis occurs when the immune system attacks healthy skin cells. As part of this attack, healthy skin grows and rises to the outermost layer of the skin more quickly.

TREATMENT OF PSORIASIS

Treatment for psoriasis involves the management of the symptoms and the immune system’s response to the perceived threat. Some contributing factors to the immune response include existing, dry skin, stress, infections, and some medications, explains the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The three most common medicinal treatments, according to the Mayo Clinic, include the following:

  • Topical Treatments – Your physician may give you ointments and creams to treat your psoriasis. These medications aim at inhibiting the cell turnover, effectively reducing the pace at which newer skin cells rise to the outside layer of skin. Topical treatments include corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, Anthralin, retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, salicylic acid, coal tar and moisturizes.
  • Light Therapy or Phototherapy – This treatment uses artificial, or natural, ultraviolet light to force the skin to react. Ultraviolet light reduces the rate of cell turnover; however, excessive exposure to UV light can make the symptoms worsen. Consult your physician before beginning any sort of UV treatment for your psoriasis.
  • Medications – For our purposes, medications include injected and oral medications. These medications reduce the production of skin cells, or they may reduce the immune system response, which improves psoriasis symptoms.

HOME REMEDIES FOR PSORIASIS

Many with psoriasis manage mild to moderate symptoms through home remedies, explains the Mayo Clinic. These remedies include bathing daily, using ointment-based moisturizers, spending small amounts of time in the sunlight and avoiding triggers of psoriasis.  Or you may need to reduce your level of stress, avoid certain foods, avoid drinking alcohol or avoid certain medications. The food and over-the-counter medication triggers will vary from person to person, so you will have to monitor what you eat and when symptoms develop. If you are new to living with psoriasis, a journal can help you figure out your triggers.

If you currently have, or believe you may have psoriasis, consult your physician before starting any intensive treatment regimen.

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