Table of contents:
- What is psoriasis?
- Types and symptoms of psoriasis
- Psoriasis diagnosis
- Top locations affected
- What causes psoriasis
- Psoriasis treatment
- Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that causes the appearance of red, dry, itchy patches.
- The most affected sites are the arms, elbows, hands, legs and scalp, but they can appear anywhere on the body.
- There is no test capable of confirming whether a person has psoriasis, but the diagnosis can be made by a dermatologist by observing the spots.
- The exact cause of psoriasis is not yet known, however it is possible that it is caused by an imbalance in the immune system.
- Treatment is usually done with drugs and ointments that reduce inflammation or regulate the immune system, but it can also be complemented with phototherapy and dietary changes.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that causes characteristic symptoms such as red, dry patches, which can cause itching, slight burning or pain.
Although it is a relatively common disease, the exact cause is not yet known, however, it is common for psoriasis patches to appear or become more intense during situations that directly affect immunity, such as periods of great stress or presence of autoimmune diseases, for example.
Types and symptoms of psoriasis
Most cases of psoriasis are characterized by the presence of red, dry patches of skin, however, depending on the type of symptoms and the affected site, psoriasis can be divided into several sub-types:
1. Vulgar psoriasis
Psoriasis vulgaris, also called plaque psoriasis, is the most common form of the disease and is characterized by the presence of red plaques, with white or silvery scales, which can be from a few millimeters to several centimeters in size..
This type of psoriasis usually appears on the arms, legs, scalp and lower back, but it can also affect the nails. The presence of other symptoms such as itching or burning at the affected sites varies from person to person.
2. Guttate psoriasis
Guttate psoriasis, also known as droplet psoriasis, is more common in children, adolescents, and young adults, and is manifested by the presence of drop-shaped patches on the skin.
The patches of guttate psoriasis are smaller than 1 cm in size and tend to appear on the trunk, armpits, and groin, usually following a streptococcus infection of the airways.
3. Pustular psoriasis
Pustular psoriasis occurs when small blisters with pus appear on the skin, along with the psoriasis patches. These blisters can appear in just a specific area of the skin or end up spreading all over the body. When pustular psoriasis is generalized, a person may also have a fever of 39° to 40° for several days.
4. Inverted psoriasis
Inverted psoriasis is another type of psoriasis that is identified when psoriasis spots appear only in moist places, such as the armpits, groin, inframammary region, navel or scalp, for example. As they appear in humid places, these spots do not usually show flaking.
5. Nail psoriasis
Popularly known as nail psoriasis, nail psoriasis occurs when the disease mainly affects the nail region, causing dimples on the nails, stains and weakened nails.
Often, nail psoriasis appears before the psoriasis appears on the skin, and may be the only symptom for several years.
The first sign of psoriasis is usually the appearance of red patches on the skin, which disappear after a while without needing treatment, but which can reappear, especially during periods of increased stress.
When you suspect that you may have psoriasis, you should consult a dermatologist, as this is the most suitable professional to diagnose this disease. The diagnosis of psoriasis is usually made by observing the symptoms on the skin and evaluating the person's family he alth history.
To arrive at the correct diagnosis, the doctor may also have to perform some tests to rule out other skin problems with similar symptoms, such as eczema, ringworm, lichen planus or lupus erythematosus, for example.
Top locations affected
Psoriasis spots are more common in places like:
- Arms, elbows and hands;
- Legs and knees;
- Genital organs;
- Belly and navel;
- Scalp, near the back of the neck and forehead;
- Armbones and lower back.
Still, psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, varying from person to person. Thus, the ideal is that whenever there is any change in the skin, a consultation with the dermatologist is made, to identify the problem and start the most appropriate treatment.
What causes psoriasis
The specific causes of psoriasis are not yet known, however, it is known that the disease is caused by an imbalance in the person's own immune system. This means that psoriasis is not caused by a virus, fungi or bacteria and therefore is not contagious either.
Some factors that seem to increase the chances of developing psoriasis include:
- Blows and other injuries to the skin;
- Virus or bacterial infections;
- Habits such as smoking or alcoholism;
- Use of medication, especially antimalarials, lithium or beta-blockers.
Psoriasis also has a very strong genetic relationship, as more than 50% of affected people have other cases of psoriasis in the family.
There is no specific treatment capable of eliminating psoriasis and, for this reason, it is considered that psoriasis has no cure. However, there are several types of treatment that can relieve symptoms and improve the person's quality of life.
The main types of treatment used are:
- Medicines and ointments: they are the main way to control symptoms and act directly on the immune system or on the inflammatory process of psoriasis. The most used type are corticosteroid ointments, which reduce the redness and itching of the spots;
- Phototherapy: consists of the application of UVB rays on the skin and is usually used in conjunction with medicines and ointments to increase the anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative effect;
- Proper diet: food is another good way to complement the treatment of psoriasis, as it allows you to avoid the consumption of substances that can contribute to skin inflammation;
Furthermore, there are also some home remedies for psoriasis that can be used, with the doctor's knowledge, to control symptoms without adding side effects to the treatment. A good example is watercress, which helps eliminate substances from the body that have the potential to cause psoriasis flare-ups or worsen symptoms.
In recent years, interest has also increased in studying some biological agents, such as adalimumab or etanercept, to alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis. This type of medication is a new class of treatment that consists of the use of proteins or antibodies capable of regulating the immune system.