What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common but chronic inflammatory skin condition which affects the increased regeneration of skin cells. The identifying feature of this skin problem is that it causes skin cells to expire rapidly and then build up on the surface of the skin. The buildup forms raised, silvery scales and plates which are dry, painful, and itchy. Psoriasis can appear in five main types, and the psoriasis symptoms are unique to each type. However, all psoriasis symptoms are generalized by their itching and discomfort which may interfere with daily activities.
The most common form of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, which accounts for 80% of psoriasis patients. In this condition, patches of raised, red-colored skin appear in various areas of your body. Most commonly, plaques form on the elbows, scalp, knees, and lower back, but it is possible for them to form anywhere. These red plaques are usually covered by silver-white scales which appear dry and flaky.
This type of psoriasis is frequently triggered by bacterial infections in the body, such as strep throat. The symptoms are small, water-drop shaped sores which are scattered across the surface of the skin. Most commonly, the symptoms appear on the arms, legs, scalp and trunk, but can appear anywhere. Guttate sores are not as thick as those in plaque-type psoriasis and are usually covered in a very fine silvery scale. This type will usually disappear on its own, but can return if you experience frequent respiratory infections.
This is a rare form of psoriasis which can appear in small localized areas or in widespread areas across the body. The psoriasis symptoms are pus filled blisters which develop shortly after your skin becomes tender and red. Typically, the painful blisters will heal within two days, but may come and go over a period of days or weeks. Other symptoms associated with this type are fever, fatigue, chills, and painful itching.
This form of psoriasis is more commonly seen in people who are overweight, and symptoms grow worse when friction and sweating is present. This condition generally affects skin under the armpits, in the groin area, and under breasts. Breakouts are characterized by smooth patches of inflamed, red skin.
This type is the most extreme form of the condition, resulting in psoriasis symptoms covering the entire body. Affected skin is characterized by a widespread peeling rash that itches and burns painfully. Although rare, outbreaks of this type can be triggered by long exposure to sunlight, other forms of psoriasis which have been left untreated, and some types of medications.
Your specific treatment will depend on what type of psoriasis you are suffering from and how severe the symptoms are. In some cases, symptoms are relatively mild and a patient may not even be aware of the disease. In severe cases, plaques and lesions may cover the entire body and hospitalization may be necessary. In general, most cases will be somewhere in between these two extremes.
Treatment depends on the severity and type of psoriasis. Some psoriasis is so mild that the person is unaware of the condition. A few develop such severe psoriasis that lesions cover most of the body and hospitalization is required. These represent the extremes. Most cases of psoriasis fall somewhere in between. Treatment methods are varied, ranging from topical treatments, oral treatments, light therapy, and most recently, the application of bilogic agents for skin healing.
Who is at risk?
Almost 5 million adults in the U.S. alone suffer from psoraisis and more and more are being diagnosed every year. Almost anyone can develop psoriasis, but there are several factors which might increase your risk. Studies show that men and women are at equal risk for the skin condition but that diagnoses are most common in Caucasian populations. People with a family history of psoriasis are at a much higher risk. Additionally, stress, smoking, and obesity can also contribute to the development of psoriasis.
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