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Guide to Psoriasis

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Psoriasis is a common medical skin condition with characteristic skin lesions. Psoriasis causes skin cells to grow 7 times faster and these excess skin cells form thick and silvery scales or dryand red patches. The body does not quickly shed these extra skin cells; thus, piling up and creating patches of psoriasis. There are many signs and symptoms of psoriasis, which can vary among different people. Psoriasis symptoms include red patches covered in silvery scales, small scaling spots, dry and cracked skin that may bleed, itch or burn, thickened or ridged nails, and swollen or stiff joints. Depending on the person, the psoriasis patches can range from smalls spots to extensive breakouts. There are several types of psoriasis including plaque, guattate, inverse, pustular, and erythrodermic. Some people may have one type of psoriasis while others may have multiple. It is also possible for a person’s psoriasis to change types over time. Most types of psoriasis go through cycles by flaring for a few weeks or months then subsiding for a time or even going into remission.

Affecting approximately two to three percent of the world’s population, psoriasis is a major and chronic problem for many people. In the United States alone, about 7.5 million people suffer from this chronic skin condition with almost 80% of people experiencing plaque type psoriasis. Psoriasis can occur in both males and females of any ethnicity. In addition, although psoriasis can develop at any age, those suffering from this condition are usually between the ages of 15 and 30. Another common age range for psoriasis is between 50 and 60 years old. Furthermore, infants and young children can also suffer from psoriasis but more specifically, inverse psoriasis and guttate psoriasis. Generally considered hereditary, those with psoriasis usually come from a family with one or more people who havethe same skin condition.

Although the exact causes of psoriasis have not been determined, it has been confirmed that psoriasis is not contagious. Psoriasis symptoms are caused by the immune system’s reaction to environment factors.  The body’s DNA mistakenly causes skin cells to grow too fast, which creates excess skin layers leading to the skin lesions associated with psoriasis. In addition, although psoriasis is generally considered hereditary, not everyone who inherits the genes for psoriasis actually get the skin condition. People must inherit the right combination of genes and well as be exposed to triggers for them to suffer from this medical condition. There are many common triggers that cause psoriasis breakouts including stress, strep throat, certain medication such as lithium, cold and dry weather, cuts, scratches, or sunburns.

Psoriasis is most commonly mistaken as eczema; however, these two medical conditions are completely different. Although both psoriasis and eczema involve skin inflammation, major differences include appearance and symptoms. Psoriasis develops when excess skin cells form causing skin lesions that resemble thick, red, dry, and scaly patches. The intense itch of eczema also creates skin lesions that may look similar to psoriasis patches but with eczema, lesions can also appear as moist and oozing areas. In addition, psoriasis most likely develops on the back of elbows or the front of knees while eczema develops on the insides portions of the arms and behind the knees. Unlike eczema, psoriasis is commonly located on the scalp and nails. Although most people cannot distinguish the differences between psoriasis and eczema, these two skin-related conditions are different and require different treatments.

Although there is no cure for psoriasis, there are many ways to manage and reduce psoriasis symptoms. There are some easy, everyday tips that can help treat psoriasis. One of the best and easiest ways to treat psoriasis is to moisturize. Keeping your skin moisturized helps to reduce dryness, itching, redness, and scaling. Thick and heavy ointments are great for locking in moisture while smooth and thinner lotions are great to apply throughout the day. Depending on the temperature or the humidity, you may want to use more to retain more moisture. Another way to soothe psoriasis symptoms includes daily baths. Warm baths using mild, nonirritating soaps can help sooth itchiness and remove dry skin. Furthermore, adding oils or Epsom salts can add even more relief to your daily baths. Getting more sun can also improve and heal psoriasis lesions. UV rays from sunlight slow the growth of skin so getting approximately 20 minutes of sun two or three times a week can help combat psoriasis. Make sure to use sunscreen and exercise good suncare to protect your uninvolved skin from sun damage. Also, consult a doctor because some medications can make skin more sensitive to UV rays. Maintaining a low level of stress and relieving anxiety also can reduce flare-ups. To start, try relaxations exercises as yoga. Lastly, maintaining a healthy lifestyle such as eating right and exercising can help improve psoriasis symptoms. People suffering from psoriasis can easily implement this advice to help calm their psoriasis outbreaks and flare-ups.

Visit Mendelson Dermatology to learn easy and effective treatment options. Mendelson Dermatology offers a variety of solutions to your skin care problems and needs that can help reduce and manage the effects of psoriasis. Take care of your skin today!