Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin disorder which is a chronic and recurring condition that varies in severity from minor localized patches to completely covering the body. Psoriasis is a disease which commonly affects the skin and joints and causes red scaly patches to appear. These scaly patches, called psoriatic plaques, are areas of inflammation and excessive skin production and commonly take on a silvery white appearance.

Skin Plaques

Psoriatic skin plaques frequently occur on the skin of the knees and elbows, but may affect any area including the scalp. Psoriasis is believed to be non-contagious and is immune-mediated. Psoriasis is a lifelong condition and there is currently no cure however there are various treatment options which can help to control the symptoms. Psoriasis does tend to get worse over time, but it is not possible to predict who will go on to develop extensive psoriasis or those in whom the disease may appear to vanish.

Psoriasis can cause inflammation of the joints which is known as psoriatic arthritis and up to 15% of people with psoriasis have psoriatic arthritis. The causes of psoriasis are not known, but it is believed to have a genetic component. Stress, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking are all linked to help aggravate psoriasis.

People who suffer from psoriasis may also suffer from depression and loss of self-esteem and their quality of life is an important factor of evaluating the severity of the disease. Many treatments for psoriasis are available, but due to the chronic recurrent nature, psoriasis is typically challenging to treat.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing psoriasis is usually based on the appearance of the skin. A skin biopsy may be needed to rule out other skin disorders and to confirm the diagnosis, but there are no special blood tests or diagnostic procedures available to diagnosis psoriasis. Psoriasis is usually graded from mild, which affects less than 3% of the body, moderate which affects up to 10% of the body, to severe.

The degree of severity is generally based on several factors including the proportion of body surface area affected and disease activity. Individuals with psoriasis may feel self-conscious about the appearance of their skin or have a poor self image which may stem from fear of public rejection or psychosexual concerns. Distress due to this disease may lead to significant depression or social isolation.

Risk Factors

Psoriasis affects both males and females equally and may occur at any age, although it most commonly appears for the first time between the ages of 15 and 25 years. The cause of psoriasis is still not fully understood, but there are two main hypotheses about the process that occurs in the development of the disease. Psoriasis is typically an idiosyncratic disease.

The first outbreak of psoriasis is sometimes reported following stress, whether physical or mental, skin injuries, or streptococcal infections. The disease may worsen due to infections, stress, and changes in the season or climate. Certain medications have also been reported to trigger or aggravate the disease. Excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, and smoking may help to exacerbate psoriasis or make managing the disease more difficult.