Basic psoriasis information
Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin disease that may be a reaction to stress or other factors in a person’s environment. The occurrence of psoriasis may also be the result of the absence of certain hormones. In the most common form of psoriasis layers of skin-cells form on the outer surface of the skin. These layers of skin may appear as scales or “plaques”. The process behind this is due to the speed with which new skin cells are generated. In a person who does not have this disease new skin cells replace the old ones over a period of weeks whereas in a person with psoriasis this replacement happens in a matter of days, resulting in a buildup of skin. This buildup is what appears as the thickened skin plaques. In fairer skinned people, these plaques look red or pink, in darker skinned people they look like darker-than-normal skin.
Other psoriasis symptoms
Psoriasis can present in a number of different ways apart from skin dis-figuration. In some cases the persons fingernails and toenails can be affected causing a condition called nail dystrophy. In the nail dystrophy associated with psoriasis, the fingernails and toenails become discolored and separate from the nail bed. Psoriasis can affect the joints making them swell, this is called psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis and heredity
Psoriasis is hereditary. While the cause of psoriasis has yet to be pinpointed, researchers have figured out how it gets passed down. If one of a child’s parents has the condition, that child has a 25% chance of getting the disease. If both parents have it then the child has a 50% chance of having psoriasis signs show up at some point.
Age and psoriasis
The disease tends to show up primarily in two age groups. The first age group is people between the ages of 20 and 30. The second in people who are between the ages of 50 and 60. This latter form of psoriasis is often referred to as “late onset psoriasis”.
Skin care and psoriasis treatment
With mild cases of psoriasis, which is most of them, the main aspect of treating the condition will be the use of skin emollients, or moisturizers. The vast majority of psoriasis sufferers are able to keep the disease in check with only the use of these topical skin creams. There are also shampoos and soaps that will help to control psoriasis. Applying skin creams to the plaques will make them easy to peel off. The effects of applying skin creams to the plaques on a regular basis will usually occur within 8 weeks. The results of treatment are usually seen more quickly if it is consistently applied. Other recommendations for treating psoriasis include (limited) exposure ultra violet light and using tar based products.
Triggers of psoriasis
While in many cases psoriasis is a relatively random disease with no consistent triggers, certain things have been reported as causing outbreaks. These triggers include stress, a change in climate, too much exposure to sunlight, and injury to the skin. Psoriasis that occurs as a reaction to a skin injury does so as a result of what is known as Koebner’s phenomenon and can occur even when the injury is minor. A skin lesion occurs at the point of the trauma. In some cases mild friction alone is sufficient to cause an outbreak. In women a flare-up of psoriasis may occur in coincidence with smoking. Certain drugs like beta-blockers and lithium are also thought to result in outbreaks of psoriasis.