Psoriasis Symptoms | Diagnosis and Treatment
A chronic skin condition, psoriasis is the result of a disorder of the immune system that causes skin cells to grow five times faster than normal, resulting in the accumulation of dead skin cells in the form of elevated plaques of red, dry, and itchy skin. Under normal conditions, skin cells take weeks to form, but in a person suffering from psoriasis symptoms, skin cells form within days of the shedding of dry, dead skin.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, psoriasis affects about 7.5 million people. Characterized by small red patches and scaly skin, the condition affects nails, arms, trunk, legs, scalp, joints, knees, lower back, and elbow.
Caused by an overactive immune system, psoriasis may run in families. The condition may affect people with a family history of the disease, smoking, viral/bacterial infection, uncontrolled stress, or hypertension medications. Some people taking bipolar disorder medications may also develop psoriasis.
A doctor can diagnose the condition from the red, itchy patches that can be seen with a naked eye, though a skin biopsy may be needed at times to rule out other conditions.
The signs and symptoms vary depending on the type of psoriasis affecting you.
- Plaque Psoriasis or Psoriasis Vulgaris: This type of skin condition is characterized by raised, red patches on any part of the skin. There may be itching and scaling on the patches, that is, silvery-white coating on the skin. In some people, patches may appear on the scalp, lower back, elbows, or knees. The itchy patches may thicken if scratched.
- Guttate Psoriasis: This type of psoriasis is characterized by small, red spots on the arms, legs, and trunk. The spots may also affect the face, scalp, ears. A strep throat infection is often the precursor to guttate psoriasis, resulting in spots that may take weeks or months to clear up without treatment.
Pustular Psoriasis: The condition is characterized by red, dotted, or swollen skin, with bumps filled with pus appearing on the soles or palms. You may experience pain or soreness at the infection site. The bumps dry gradually, leaving behind scale or dots on the skin. The condition may become fatal if the pus-filled bumps spread to the entire body. The bumps may cause bright red itchy skin. You may experience fever, chills, loss of appetite, and muscle weakness and feel sick and exhausted.
- Inverse Psoriasis: Some of the inverse psoriasis symptoms include smooth, red raw-looking patches. The condition mostly affects areas where skin touches skin, including genitals, groin, armpits, breasts, and buttocks.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis: In a person suffering from this condition, the skin may appear bright red and burned. A serious condition, exfoliative psoriasis may be result in intense itching and pain or palpitation.
- Psoriasis Treatment: If you are suffering from psoriasis, treatment may help reduce the symptoms but not heal them completely. With treatment, you may reduce pain and inflammation associated with the condition. The dermatologist may prescribe topical ointments, moisturizers, and vitamin D analogues. Light therapy is another form of treatment to reduce the overgrowth of skin cells. In severe cases, the dermatologist may prescribe medications to suppress the overactive immune system.
Limit alcohol consumption and quit smoking to improve your overall condition.