If you came to this website, you most probably wonder: “What is psoriasis?” We know the answer to this question and will be glad to share all the information we have with you. On our website we provide a comprehensive description of this dermatological condition. This article is your best choice for psoriasis 101.
First of all you need to know psoriasis definition, so here it is: psoriasis is a chronic skin disease, which manifests itself in the form of skin peeling and rashes. It is characterized by undulating course with periods of remission and periods of exacerbations. The disease can develop at any age, even in children, but most often psoriasis affects young adults. And if you nervously think to yourself: “Is psoriasis contagious?”, stop be concerned, as it is not.
The term derived from the Greek word psoriasis translated as pruritus or itching. This symptom most clearly characterizes this noninfectious dermatological problem. This dermatosis results in skin cells dividing about thirty times faster, causing the loss of intercellular junction. This leads to the formation of the characteristic scales. The immune system of the body is also involved in the pathological process, attacking own cells, which causes chronic inflammation in the lesion.
The non-infectious nature of the disease was proven in the 19th century. Since that time, numerous studies try to define psoriasis causes. However, as for the majority of systemic diseases, a single cause has not yet been found. There exist several theories:
- Immune theory stating that the disease is the result of immune system dysfunctions.
- Hereditary factors associated with congenital pathologies of genetic material. If the parents suffer from this skin disease, the risk of dermatosis in their baby is 50% higher.
- Endocrine factors caused by disorders of endocrine organs (pituitary, pancreas and thyroid).
- Metabolic disorders are another possible cause of psoriasis.
- Stress can lead to the onset of the disease or aggravation of its symptoms.
Types of Psoriasis
There are many classifications of psoriasis based on the severity of the condition, the nature of lesions, localization of lesions, etc. Usually they define the following types of psoriasis:
- Psoriasis vulgaris, or plaque, or vulgar psoriasis is the major of all types of psoriasis. The most characteristic of all chronic plaque psoriasis symptoms is the appearance of traditional plaques covered with white-gray scales.
- Guttate psoriasis is the second most common and is diagnosed in every tenth patient. It is manifested by small drop-shaped scaly rash all over the body.
- Pustular variant is characterized by the formation of pustules.
- Inverse psoriasis is located on flexor surfaces of the skin.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis is a severe form of the disease, since it affects almost the entire surface of the skin and causes systemic reactions (fever, swollen lymph nodes).
- Psoriatic arthritis is characterized by joint damage. It is accompanied by inflammation in the joints and connective tissue. Psoriatic arthritis most commonly affects small joints of the distal phalanges of fingers and toes.
By stages of the pathological process they define progressive, stable and retrogressive psoriasis.
The most common of all psoriasis symptoms is appearance of spots on the skin, covered with white or grayish scales, which are easily separated. For those who want to know does psoriasis itch it will be useful to learn that another common symptom is psora, or itching, that gave the disease its name.
Localization of lesions
Psoriatic rash can appear anywhere on the surface of the skin, as a rule, in areas of extensor surfaces (elbows, knees) of large joints and in areas that are constantly exposed to trauma or friction, such as hands. Nail psoriasis can affect nails of fingers or toes. The favorite localization on face is in ears, near the hair line or on the scalp.
There are two specific signs of psoriasis:
- The Koebner phenomenon is that psoriatic lesions appear in areas subject to injury (abrasion, scratches, etc.). It is characteristic for the advanced stage of the disease.
- Voronov symptom is the formation of a pale rim around the newly formed papules not yet covered by scales. It is a kind of cardiovascular response of the body and shows further progression of the disease.
These symptoms of psoriasis allow to distinguish the disease from other dermatoses of similar course.
Possible complications include arthritis and depression caused by low self-esteem due to even a mild form of the disease. Therefore, in psoriasis treatment it is important to pay attention not only to the elimination of symptoms and normalization of the immune system functions, but also to the psychological condition of the patient.
Psoriasis vs Eczema
Eczema is also a chronic skin disease with a relapsing course. The main difference of psoriasis vs eczema is that the eczema rash elements are vesicles filled with liquid, and psoriasis rash consists of dry scaly plaques. The development of eczema is caused by allergies and change in the total body reactivity. As a rule, there is a primary focus of inflammation or physical disease (sinusitis, worm infestation, gastritis, colitis).
Three main components that make the difference between eczema and psoriasis are called the “psoriatic triad”:
- the “stearin spot” phenomena (scraping the top layer of psoriatic plaques enhances the peeling);
- the “wet film” phenomena (if you remove all the scales from a psoriatic skin lesion, you can see smooth, pinkish, slightly wet surface);
- the “blood dew” phenomena (when removing the wet terminal film the area get covered with tiny droplets of blood, also known as point hemorrhage).
The combination of all three attributes eliminates the error in diagnosis.
The disease must be diagnosed by a dermatologist on the basis of typical clinical picture. To clarify the diagnosis skin biopsy is made.
Methods of Psoriasis Treatment
Understanding what psoriasis is, you can better imagine the possible methods of its treatment. Since this is a chronic disease, it cannot be completely cured. However, a quick relief for psoriasis can be achieved by reducing the clinical manifestations. An integrated approach to the treatment of scaly rash is the use of drugs and physiotherapy techniques. There are also home remedies for psoriasis that can be a great help for psoriasis itch relief.
Drugs for psoriasis
The most popular are medications for external use. They may include several components, which prevent excessive division of skin cells and reduce itching. Most often they contain the following ingredients:
- Glucocorticosteroid hormones that reduce inflammation and inhibit the reactivity of the immune system. When applied topically hormones have less pronounced systemic effects.
- Vitamin D is a component of a large number of drugs for topical application. Its highest efficacy for psoriasis is shown in combination with ultraviolet irradiation.
- Activated zinc quickly removes redness and itching. This component is substantially harmless to the organism.
Among the drugs for systemic treatment of psoriasis are:
- corticosteroids, as they regulate the metabolism and eliminate the areas of inflammation, but they have pronounced withdrawal symptoms;
- cytotoxic agents inhibit cell division in the epidermis, but also weaken the immune system;
- NSAIDs only reduce the severity of itching and inflammation but do not affect the primary causes.
Vitamins and anti-allergic drugs are used in addition to the primary therapy.
Since there is no really effective drug to fight psoriasis, all drugs are administered in combination with physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy and Home Remedies for Psoriasis
Among the most frequently used procedures for the treatment of systemic diseases such as psoriasis are the following methods:
- Hirudotherapy, which uses leeches. It improves blood circulation and normalizes the immune response.
- Cryotherapy during which the patient spends a few minutes in the room with air temperature of 130 degrees Celsius. The procedure significantly reduces the itching and eliminates the inflammation and edema.
- PUVA therapy combines phototherapy and chemotherapy. After administration of a light-sensible drug, which is accumulated in cells with a high ability to regenerate the patient is exposed to light. The latter has a particular wavelength and helps to activate the photosensitizer. Thus selectivity effect is reached and only the damaged cells are affected.
Sometimes the treatment of psoriasis includes effective use of homeopathic methods or home remedies. The most popular recipes include tar in combination with any other substances that help reducing inflammation and itching. Tar is mainly used for the treatment of lesions located on the scalp, at the same time strengthening hair and hair follicles.
Another method is a salt bath, and this one can be used at home by taking bathes with sea salt, at SPAs and sea health resorts. The sea salt contains various minerals that have soothing and calming effect. It is recommended to have a bath with sea salt up to 4 times per week.
It is impossible to prevent the onset of the disease, but there are methods to the number of exacerbations. It is necessary to protect your skin from overdrying, avoid prolonged exposure to the sun and injuries. You can take a sun bath for 15 minutes daily, but not in high heat. Treat any skin problems as soon as they arise.
You should also refrain from drinking alcohol, avoid stress as much as possible, watch your weight and lead a healthy lifestyle, the most important component of which is a special diet your doctor will prescribe you.