What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic auto-immune skin condition that causes the build-up of skin cells at a rapid pace which in turn causes scaling on the skin’s surface on the joints, elbows and knees. It results in inflammation of skin along with redness and could even cause the red patches to crack and bleed. Typically, the life cycle of a single skin cell is one month post which they fall off.
What Causes Psoriasis?
Experts believe that there are two main causes of Psoriasis, genetics and environment. There’s still uncertainty when it comes to the genetics aspect of Psoriasis however it is believed that 1 out of every 10 people pick up at least one of the genes of their parents that causes Psoriasis. But again, only about 3% of those get Psoriasis and that’s where the environmental aspect comes into play. Many researchers believe that like infections such as a strep throat, or an injury to the skin, certain medications, and smoking, among other things may trigger this condition.
What are the Common Signs and Symptoms of Psoriasis?
While Psoriasis affects individuals differently, the most common signs and symptoms include red patches of skin with thick, silvery scales, dry and cracked skin, itching and burning, swollen and stiff joints, and small scaly spots. Moreover, there are several types of psoriasis which affects different parts of the body.
What are the Risk Factors Involved in One Developing Psoriasis?
There are certain factors that increase the risk of a person developing psoriasis. These factors include both genetics and the environment. The major risk factors are family history, stress, obesity, viral and bacterial infections, and even smoking. In addition to this, if one is affected by psoriasis, they are also at a greater risk of developing other diseases and conditions that may affect their daily lives.
What is the Best Way to Diagnose Psoriasis?
The diagnosis of psoriasis is quite straightforward. The dermatologist or the doctor takes the medical history into account of the one affected by psoriasis and examines the skin, scalp and nails. There’s a good chance for the doctor to perform skin biopsy as well in such a case where the condition is aggravated.
What is the Best Cure for Psoriasis?
There is no ultimate cure for psoriasis however, there are three kinds of treatments that aim to reduce inflammation, redness, and scaling and also reduce the pace of growth of skin cells. These treatments fall under topical treatments, systematic medications and light therapy, all three of which are designed to heal the skin.
What are the Topical Treatments Used to Reduce Psoriasis?
Creams and ointments can be directly applied to the skin to reduce mild to moderate psoriasis. Topical corticosteroids, topical retinoids, vitamin D analogues and even moisturisers help to reduce psoriasis by reducing dryness, itching and scaling.
Why are Systematic Medications Used to Treat Psoriasis and for Whom?
Those affected with moderate to severe psoriasis and ones who haven’t responded well to any other treatment, may need to take the help of oral or injected medications. These medications could have severe side effects which is why doctors usually prescribe them only for a short period of time.
How is Light Therapy Effective in Treating Psoriasis?
The light therapy treatment for Psoriasis uses ultraviolet (UV) light or natural light as its source. Studies suggest that sunlight tends to kill the overactive white blood cells or WBCs that attack the healthy skin cells to cause rapid skin cell growth. Both types of UV rays, i.e. UVA and UVB are helpful in reducing the symptoms of mild to moderate Psoriasis.Therefore, anyone who is affected with moderate to severe psoriasis can benefit from a combination of these three treatments.
Are There any Alternative Treatments for Psoriasis?
While there are many treatments that are currently being researched, there are a few that seem to benefit those with mild to moderate psoriasis. These treatments could include special diets, supplements and herbs or even creams. Aloe vera and fish oil are the mildest and safest ingredients that can reduce the inflammation and ease the symptoms.
Can Psoriasis be Cured with Self-help Measures?
Self-help measures will not help cure psoriasis entirely but they can definitely ease the inflammation and redness as well as improve the appearance of the damaged skin.
Is there a Specific Diet that People with Psoriasis Should Follow?
Although a diet isn’t the most effective way to treat Psoriasis, a healthy diet can reduce and ease the symptoms. One should switch to a heart-healthy diet and reduce the intake of saturated fats that are usually found in meats and dairy. Instead, increase the intake of lean proteins which contain omega-3 fatty acids.
What are the Aelf-help Measures One can Take to Ease the Symptoms of Psoriasis?
The severity of Psoriasis can be reduced by taking several self-help measures that includes losing weight, if you’re overweight. It can act as a catalyst to effective treatment of the condition. Additionally, the consumption of alcohol can increase the risk of a flare-up. So cutting back on alcohol consumption or quitting entirely is a good way to ease the symptoms.
Can Sunlight be a Good Way to Cure Psoriasis Just Like Light Therapy?
Psoriasis can be treated with a controlled amount of sunlight, but too much of sun exposure can trigger outbreaks and even increase the risk of skin cancer. So, speak to the doctor first before using sunlight as a way to treat this skin condition. Remember to use sunscreen only on those patches of skin that are not affected by psoriasis.
Lastly, Who is the Best Person to Approach for Treatment?
Since psoriasis is a skin condition, the best person to approach for its treatment is a skin doctor or dermatologist. They can answer your questions regarding tests, diagnosis, side effects and most importantly, permanent cure. Reach out to the right doctor to ensure the diagnosis is correct and the treatment you receive is the right kind of treatment as well.
DR. SURAJIT GORAI
Dermatologist, Cosmetologist, Tricologist