The skin is your first line of defense against different diseases since it protects all your vital organs from a wide range of infections. If your skin is unhealthy, then you might become exposed to developing serious illnesses which may affect the quality of your life. In this article we discuss a chronic skin condition called psoriasis which affects people of all ages.
What is psoriasis?
According to the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), psoriasis is a common, long-term skin condition which may come and go throughout one’s lifetime. It affects 1 in 50 people and equally occurs in both men and women of all ages. An estimated 2% of the total population is affected by this non-infectious disease.
Kinds of psoriasis
There are different kinds of psoriasis and the most common type is called plaque psoriasis. This kind of psoriasis is characterized by raised red patches with flaky skin referred to as “plaques.” Other forms of psoriasis include nail psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, and a rare form of psoriasis called guttate psoriasis.
When you have plaque psoriasis, the skin cells that harden your skin (keratinocytes) multiply too quickly, thus causing your skin to have that flaky, silvery appearance. Healthy skin normally sheds in a span of four weeks but when you are suffering from psoriasis this process happens as fast as four days. This abnormal cycle of the rapid growth of skin cells is caused by an autoimmune response and other various inflammatory processes.
Those with psoriasis usually suffer from itchy skin which may become damaged once you scratch the affected areas. Your skin may become dry and can it can be quite painful if touched. Here are the most common symptoms of psoriasis, by type:
- Plaque psoriasis – Red, scaly skin. Often develops symmetrically on both sides of the body particularly on the knees, elbows, head, and back.
- Nail psoriasis – pitted nails that grow thicker and have a yellow-brown discoloration.
- Pustular psoriasis – the appearance of pus-filled blisters. May occur in cases of plaque psoriasis.
- Guttate psoriasis – large-scale acute rashes. Common in children and teenagers.
Heredity plays a major role in developing your risk of psoriasis. There is a 15% chance that a child will develop psoriasis if one parent has the condition and that number rises to 40% if both parents have it. Psoriasis affects adults and young adults aged 40 and below but can also occur during the later stages of life, particularly patients aged 50 - 70 years old. Children may also suffer from this condition during the early years of their childhood.
However, some studies conclude that the root cause of psoriasis is complex and is not quite understood as of the moment.
Your dermatologist may take a small skin sample to get an accurate diagnosis and to rule out other possible skin diseases. Once diagnosed, your doctor may be able to classify and identify the severity of your condition according to the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) which takes these factors into consideration:
- Skin shedding
- Degree of reddening
- Size of affected area
- Thickness of plaques
Always consult your doctor before drinking or applying any kind of medication, including vitamins. Keep in mind that your physician is in the best position to prescribe the right kind of treatment for your condition. Immediately stop using a product if you experience negative side effects.