Psoriasis; beyond what you see: Your top 7 questions answered

December 06, 2018

Psoriasis is a condition in which skin cells build up and form scales and itchy, dry patches and it is important to be aware of it. Here are the most common questions about psoriasis answered for you.

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes rapid growth of flakey/scaly lesions and patches on the skin. These scales may typically develop anywhere on the body but are more commonly found on the extensor aspects of hands, feet, scalp or face.

There is no cure for Psoriasis, but it can be controlled. It is quite common and can be challenging to live with.

If you're worried about your skin, don't be! Kim Kardashian West isn't!
Yes, the famous celebrity has openly spoken about having Psoriasis and has even tried to reduce the stigma around it.

Here are the most common questions about Psoriasis answered for you.

1. Are there things that put me at risk of developing Psoriasis?

Yes. Lifestyle choices like smoking, obesity, and smoking can put you at a risk of psoriasis. Apart from this, viral infections like HIV or even a family history of Psoriasis are other risk factors. Psoriasis lesions are also known to suddenly flare up in response to weather, stress, diet etc.

Also read about - Obesity Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Prevention

2. Are there symptoms that I can look out for?

Since Psoriasis affects the skin cells, most of the symptoms are on the skin itself. If you find dry, cracked skin with bleeding, burning sensation or red patches covered with thick silvery scales go get yourself checked. Swollen and stiff joints are also a symptom of Psoriasis.

3. Are there things I can do to keep Psoriasis in control?

Psoriasis starts and worsens with triggers. That being said, it can be controlled quite well by making some important changes in your life.

> Smoking and alcohol are key triggers. So, quit smoking and reduce your consumption of alcohol.
Must read about -Are you a heavy drinker? Here's how alcohol is killing your essential nutrients.
> Skin injuries even as small as a cut or scrape can trigger Psoriasis.
> Take precautions to stay away from infections on the skin or even a sore throat
> Stay active and exercise regularly
> Take care of your skin. Moisturize to keep it hydrated and use a sunscreen before stepping out.
> Maintain a healthy diet and avoid red meat, processed foods and refined sugars.

Also read about -Keep heart disease at bay with a healthy diet

4. How is Psoriasis diagnosed?

The diagnosis is generally done as a physical examination and in some cases, the doctor may even advise a skin biopsy.

5. Is the effect of Psoriasis the same for all?

Not at all. There are actually 6 types of Psoriasis and affect different parts of the skin differently.
1. Plaque psoriasis is the most common kind and it is generally found on the elbows, knees and scalp. It causes red, inflamed patches and is often covered with whitish-silver scales (plaques).
2. Guttate Psoriasis is commonly found on the torso, arms and legs. It is common during childhood and develops as small pink spots.
3. Pustular Psoriasis is more common in adults and causes white, pus-filled blister on large areas of inflamed, red skin.
4. Inverse Psoriasis generally develops under the armpits or breasts, in the groin or around the skin folds in the genitals. It causes bright patches of red, shiny and inflamed skin.
5. Erythrodermic psoriasis is a very severe and rare type of Psoriasis. It often covers large sections of the body at once and the skin looks sunburnt.
6. Psoriatic arthritis causes not only inflamed, scaly skin but also swollen painful joints. This type is very rare.

6. Can Psoriasis be treated?

Yes and no. Psoriasis doesnt have a cure, but there are medications that reduce symptoms and flare-ups.

Treatments for Psoriasis may include topical medications, such as topical steroid creams, topical Retinoids, Salicylic acid, coal tar and Calcineurin inhibitors like Tacrolimus.

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Sometimes, Phototherapy is also used to treat Psoriasis with Sunlight, UVB phototherapy, Psoralen plus Ultraviolet A(PUVA therapy) and excimer laser.

Oral and injectable medications are also used as treatments like Retinoids, Methotrexate, Cyclosporine and drugs that alter the immune system like Infliximab adalimumab.

7. What other complications can having Psoriasis cause?
People with Psoriasis are prone to other problems such as Psoriatic arthritis, Obesity, Hypertension, Metabolic syndrome and eye conditions like blepharitis and conjunctivitis. Patients with Psoriasis are also susceptible to Autoimmune disorders such as Inflammatory bowel disease and Cardiovascular diseases such as irregular heartbeats, dyslipidaemia.

Also read about -Managing Hypertension : Getting back to 120/80

Article by Dr. Kranthi Kumar Varma, M.D (Dermatology)
Consultant Physician, CallHealth

Have a Question? Consult Dr. Kranthi online.

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