What is Psoriasis

by Angel

Psoriasis affects 125 million people worldwide. Learn the different types and how to treat it.

Psoriasis is an auto immune disease. It affects 7.5 million Americans and 125 million people worldwide. The body attacks healthy skin cells. It causes skin cells to mature and die in less than a week. This process normally takes up to a month. This causes scaly thick patches of skin or rashes to develop all over the body. As a chronic inflammatory disease it has no cure and can be painful. It affects the joints of your body and can lead to having Psoriatic Arthritis. This disease causes depression, anxiety, and low self esteem in those that have it. I have been suffering from Psoriasis and did not know what it was until just this week. Having a new diagnosis I wanted to find out as much I could about it. There are many different types as well as many different ways to treat it. I would like to share the information I have learned in hopes to help spread awareness and help others get their diagnosis a lot quicker than I did.

What Causes Psoriasis?

The exact cause of Psoriasis is unknown. Like so many other diseases where the cause is unknown, it is believed to be linked to genetics and environment. Though the exact cause is unknown there are a few triggers that are known. These are things that are known to either cause your first outbreak of it or cause a flare up if you already have it. If you have a predisposition to have it and are exposed to one of the triggers you may develop Psoriasis.

 

Known Triggers

  1. Stress
  2. Injury to the skin – scratches, scrapes, sunburn
  3. Medications – Lithium, Antimalarials, Quinidine, Indomethacin
  4. Allergies
  5. Diet
  6. Weather
  7. Strep Infection

 

My trigger was a strep infection. Lets just say I am 95% sure it was. I developed a really sore throat that lasted over a week and did not go to the doctor. We had just moved into our new home and I did not take the time to go see a doctor. I know I will go to a doctor the next time I am feeling that sick! The untreated strep infection caused the psoriasis to develop all over my body. If you suspect that you may have strep then please get it taken care of at a doctor's office. The psoriasis that can take over your body is much more painful and harder to get rid of than that infection.   

Types of Psoriasis


  • Scalp – many times it is confused with dandruff. The treatment for both is the same. Half of the people with Psoriasis also have the scalp type.
     
  • Plaque – most common type of Psoriasis. It can develop anywhere on the body. It starts out as small red pumps that spread and turns into dead skin that scales and flakes.
     
  • Inverse – smooth inflamed sores that develop in folds of skin like armpits, under breasts, and in the groin area.
     
  • Erythrodermic – the body's chemical balance is disrupted. Lesions look like severe burns cover the body all over. This is a very painful form. It can cause severe illness.
     
  • Pustular – puss filled blister like lesions that are contained to a small area or can be widespread. Usually a precursor to plaque psoriasis. This type can develop in someone that already has psoriasis.
     
  • Palomar-plantar Pustulosis – pustules form at the base of the heel or thumb. They turn brown and peel.
     
  • Guttate – small red dots form all over the body and enlarge quickly. They eventually turn scaly. It affects the scalp, arms, legs, and torso. This form can clear up on its own or with treatment. Can later appear as plaque psoriasis.
     
  • Nail – the nail bed is affected and the nail can separate from the nail bed. Can have this along with any of the different types.

Picures of Psoriasis

Guttate Psoriasis
Guttate Psoriasis
Wikimedia Commons, CC SA Bobjgalindo
Plaque Psoriasis
Plaque Psoriasis
Wikimedia Commons, CC SA James Heilma...
Inverse Psoriasis
Inverse Psoriasis
Wikimedia Commons, CC SA Jules
Pustular Psoriasis
Pustular Psoriasis
Wikimedia Commons, CC SA JohnJ
Scalp Psoriasis
Scalp Psoriasis
Wikimedia Commons, CC SA Jennifer
My Hand with Psoriasis
My Hand with Psoriasis
Author

How is Psoriasis Diagnosed?

A Dermatologist is who you need to go see if you suspect you have psoriasis. They can determine if it is indeed psoriasis by visual inspection or by taking a skin biopsy. If a biopsy is done they will examine it under a microscope for abnormal cells. If you have joint problems or pain but no rash you may need to submit blood work to determine if it is psoriasis. My dermatologist told me I had Guttate Psoriasis within 2 seconds of seeing my skin. I had suffered with this rash for almost two weeks before going to see her. It was really unnecessary. My face has never had a blemish or acne at all. This rash covered my face and was really bad around my eyes. Please go see your dermatologist the minute you see a rash starting. Mine had spread all over my body before I decided to go. I now have scars and at least another week or more of waiting for the rash to go away. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical.

 

Psoriasis Treatment

The treatment for psoriasis depends on the severity, type of psoriasis, and total body area affected. Most common treatment includes a topical steroid ointment, lotion, or spray. I was prescribed Betamethasone for my face, body, and scalp. If it is severe enough the doctor may prescribe pills or injections.

Some dermatologists will prescribe UV light therapy if large areas of your body are affected. I start my light therapy next week. UVB and UVA light is used in a controlled environment for a set amount of time on a regular schedule. Natural sunlight will also work for small amounts of time on a regular schedule. The UVB light penetrates the skin and slows the growth of affected skin cells. In some cases it may temporarily worsen before it gets better because the skin may get red and itch due to the light. If this is the case, the dermatologist may reduce the amount of UVB light. Please take note that this is not the same as laying in a tanning bed. Tanning beds are not recommended.

Some very good home remedies include coconut oil and olive oil. There are many others that are talked about but I can not testify to the others. I can however say that both coconut oil and olive oil have both helped my rashes tremendously. I have even used both in my head for scalp treatment and I believe they worked better than the liquid Betamethasone and Tgel shampoo that was prescribed. If you have psoriasis then you have to try these. It is better to apply them at night before going to bed because you will be very oily. Positive results from both! You have to try it.

Complications

Psoriasis has been linked to psoriatic arthritis. Many people will get psoriatic arthritis after an outbreak of psoriasis on their body. If you have joint pain along with or after an outbreak of psoriasis you should let your doctor know. Approximately 30% of people who have psoriasis will develop arthritis. It causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in and around the joints. It is more common between the ages of 30 and 50. Early diagnosis and treatment is very critical.           

Prevention

Doctors are not sure exactly what causes psoriasis so it is very difficult to prevent it. The focus is on reducing the number of occurrences and the severity of an outbreak. Know what your triggers are and avoid them. Also, keep your skin moisturized. Especially if you have an outbreak. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, alcohol, and cigarettes. These things will make your psoriasis worse.   

What Works for You?

Please do not hesitate to share what works to reduce your psoriasis outbreaks or anything that helps to sooth it or makes it go away. I am now one of the millions of Americans with this disease. It makes you want to stay in your house and not go anywhere. It is not contagious but when others see you they stare and are scared they are going to catch something from you. No one should have to live like that. I am slowly recovering from my initial outbreak and hope to be rid of this soon. Though I will never be rid of this for good, I want to do everything possible to keep from having another outbreak. I wish all of you that live with this the best of luck in your fight.

Great Resource for Psoriasis

Updated: 05/08/2012, Angel
 
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Angel on 05/09/2012

Mladen - I believe that form of psoriasis is what is on the palms of my hands. The dermatologist says the break out on my body is guttate. The joints in my fingers hurt and look swollen. I will be making an appt with a doctor about it tomorrow. I have had Malignant Melanoma so I have to be very careful in the sun but a little won't hurt. I start the light box treatments next week and will go three times a week. I hope that helps too. Thank you for all your great comments.

Mladen on 05/09/2012

Angel, I can assume how horrible this was for you. But I can assure you proriasis is chronical benign disease. It looks bad and itches a lot, but patients live with it. There are lots of medicaments that help a lot in these cases.
Sun is friend to you, and you should use this fact to ease your symptoms. Of course don't take too much of UV radiation on your skin.

Artritis often goes with palmo-plantar psoriasis. If you feel pain in joints, you must see doctor for that. Psoriasis leave permanent damage to your joints, if not treated.

Best luck to you!

Angel on 05/09/2012

Katie - I have to try that experiment. Anything to make this stuff go away. It is horrible. It isn't noticeable unless you have a flare up... then it is very noticeable. I hope to get this to go away and never come back! Thanks for reading and commenting.

katiem2 on 05/09/2012

One of my daughters friends suffers from psoriasis, she must manage it well as it is barely noticeable. I do hope you experience the same kind of success with your management of this disorder. When I was in cosmetology school we performed a little experiment with one of our fellow students who suffered with this condition. We crushed up aspirin into a powder added it to a liquid, yet mild, body wash and shampoo, she used it for two weeks, per the test and experienced a marked improvement. This was an affordable way she learned to manage her psoriasis with the application of lubriderm lotion added after.

Angel on 05/09/2012

Mladen - I am so devasted that I now have this. I did not know what was wrong with me. It took over my entire body and looked horrible. It is slowly going away. I have a lot of joint pain with it too. I need to go see someone about the possibility of arthritis I guess. I would not wish this on anyone. I hope to be looking better soon so that I can go out in public and attempt to be normal again. The olive oil and coconut oil is great! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Mladen on 05/09/2012

Great artile on psoriasis. Lots of useful information here! I have met many patients dealing with this disease trough my practice, and it is obvious this is one boring and irritating disease.
I complitely agree with you on the fact that olive oil help reduce itching. Many patients said it helped them a lot. Stil steroids are basic therapy, because this is autoimune disease. We use methotrexate here as well as part of intahospital therapy.

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