Psoriasis is a chronic auto-immune disease characterized by a rapid buildup of skin cells that causes patchy, inflamed skin that is itchy or painful. They are typically red in colour. This cell buildup called scales usually develops on elbow and knee joints but in some isolated cases they could also develop over the back and arms. Psoriasis usually flares up intermittently with periods of remission that lasts for a few months. Although this condition is treatable, there is no definitive cure.
Psoriasis is caused mainly due to genetics and immunity. There isn’t a definitive trigger for the symptoms to appear but varies between environmental factors, infections and stress. It is usually seen in young adults in the age group 15 – 35 years. This disease is not contagious.
The diagnostic procedure involves a dermatologist examining the affected skin to confirm Psoriasis.
Types of Psoriasis
There are 5 distinct category of Psoriasis
1. Plaque – This is the most common type and appears as red patchy skin covered with white build up dead skin cells. Around 80% of people affected with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis.
2. Guttate – This type of Psoriasis appears as small, drop-like lesions. Trigger may be respiratory infections like strep throat.
3. Inverse – Red patches appear in the folds of skin like the armpit areas, behind the knee, groin or under the breasts.
4. Pustular – This Psoriasis usually occurs on hands and feet and is characterized by red skin filled with white pus. The pus containing white blood cells in not infectious or contagious.
5. Erythrodermic – This is the most severe of all the different types of psoriasis. It causes large areas of fiery redness of the skin over most of the body. It can cause severe itching and even pain. The skin tends to peel off in layers. It is generally seen in people suffering with unstable plaque psoriasis. This type is particularly alarming due to the potential life risks involved. Erythrodermic psoriasis can disrupt the chemical balance of the body, causes edema, can lead to pneumonia and congestive heart failure. Anyone with these symptoms must seek immediate medical care.
Health Concerns – Although psoriasis is generally a skin disease, it can also affect the joints and bones in some isolated cases. Few people may experience inflammation of the joints with arthritis-like symptoms known as Psoriatic Arthritis.
Since psoriasis is essentially a skin condition, the scaly skin causing itching, pain and general discomfort can affect the self esteem and quality of life.