Psoriasis: Causes and Treatments

Psoriasis: Causes and Treatments

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     Psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune disease which causes patches to form on the skin. There are five different types of psoriasis and they are: inverse, plaque, guttate, erythrodermic and pustular.

    ·         Inverse Psoriasis: This causes smooth patches of inflamed skin, is worsened by sweating and friction, and is common among overweight people.

    ·         Plaque Psoriasis: This causes red skin lesions, or plaques that are covered with silvery-colored scales

    ·         Guttate Psoriasis: This type of psoriasis manifests in the form of water-drop-shaped sores on the arms, legs, trunk, and scalp.

    ·         Erythrodermic Psoriasis: This type of psoriasis is not very common; it covers the body with a red, peeling rash that tends to itch or burn intensely.

    ·         Postular Psoriasis: This is another type of uncommon type of psoriasis which covers the hands, feet, and fingertips with widespread patches that soon develop into pus-filled blisters.

     The most common type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis and approximately 1.5 million Americans are afflicted with some form of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. Psoriasis is a disease of the immune system that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakes healthy cells for dangerous substances and activates certain immune cells to produce a protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). TNF causes an accelerated growth in skin cells which build up and form the raised, silvery, scaly patches of dead skin cells known as plaques. The plaques are often itchy, painful, and have a tendency to bleed.

    Normally, skin cells grow deep in the skin and rise to the surface about once a month.  In persons with psoriasis this process takes only about two weeks and the dead skin cells build up on the skin’s surface.

    Risk Factors

    Psoriasis can be hereditary as it seems to be passed down through families. The following things may trigger a flare-up of psoriasis or make the condition harder to manage:

    ·         Reactions to certain types of drugs, including antimalarial drugs, lithium, and beta-blockers

    ·         Dry air or dry skin

    ·         Viral or bacterial infections like strep throat and upper respiratory tract infections

    ·         Injury to the skin, including insect bites, burns, and cuts

    ·         Emotional stress

    ·         Too much alcohol

    ·         Sunburn

    ·         Weakened immune system from AIDS, autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer chemotherapy





    There is no cure for psoriasis; however, the condition can be managed by treatments which aim to remove scales, smooth the skin, and to interrupt the cycle that leads to an increased production of skin cells. Some of the treatments include topical treatments like topical corticosterioids, Vitamin D analologues, topical retinoids, anthralin, salicylic acid, and calcineurin inhibitors.

    Another type of treatment involves the use of light therapy like UVB phototherapy and narrowband UVB therapy.

    Psoriasis can be treated through oral or injected medications like retinoids, hydroxyurea, and cyclosporine. Consult a dermatologist to find out which type of psoriasis you have and the type of treatment that is best for you.

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