Psoriasis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Created by Doctor Jane, 4 months ago

Psoriasis is a chronic condition believed to be associated with immune system disorders and having a genetic predisposition. While not life-threatening, psoriasis is challenging to treat, prone to recurrence, and causes various uncomfortable symptoms, as well as cosmetic concerns for those affected. If you seek further understanding of this condition to effectively manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups, continue reading this article.

psoriasis causes symptoms and treatment

Understanding Psoriasis

Psoriasis manifests as red, itchy, and scaly patches that commonly occur in areas of the skin prone to friction, such as the knees, elbows, trunk, and scalp. It is a chronic disease without a cure. Patients often experience flare-ups lasting for weeks or months, followed by asymptomatic periods. 

However, the condition tends to follow cyclical patterns, and treatment primarily focuses on symptom management and alleviation.

Psoriasis can develop at any age, but it is most frequently observed in adults under 35 years old. Both men and women are equally affected, and the severity of the condition varies from person to person. While some individuals only experience mild skin irritation, others may have severe cases that significantly impact their quality of life.

Risk Factors for Psoriasis

People at higher risk of developing psoriasis include:

  • Individuals who engage in excessive alcohol consumption or tobacco use.
  • Those with skin infections.
  • Psoriasis can occur at any age, but it typically starts between 15 and 30 years old.
Signs and Symptoms of Psoriasis

Common signs and symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • Appearance of multiple red, scaly, and silvery patches.
  • Numerous small scaly spots, often seen in children.
  • Dry, cracked, sometimes bleeding or itchy skin.
  • Itchy, burning, or painful sensations in affected areas.
  • Thickened nails with dents or grooves.
  • Swollen and stiff joints.
Psoriasis patches can manifest as small scaly spots resembling dandruff or larger areas of affected skin. The most commonly affected regions include the lower back, elbows, knees, legs, soles, scalp, face, and palms. Symptoms often occur in cycles, with flare-ups followed by remission periods.

Types of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is further categorized into different types, including:

  • Plaque psoriasis: The most prevalent form, characterized by dry, red patches of skin with silvery scales. It can cause itching and discomfort, often affecting the elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp.
  • Nail psoriasis: Involves the nails, causing pitting, grooves, shape changes, or discoloration. Severe cases may result in nail brittleness and breakage.
  • Guttate psoriasis: Commonly affects both adults and children, often triggered by bacterial infections like strep throat. It leads to small, drop-shaped, scaly lesions on the trunk, arms, or legs.
  • Inverse psoriasis: Primarily occurs in skin folds, such as the groin, buttocks, or chest. It causes red, smooth skin that worsens with friction or sweating. Fungal infections can trigger this form of psoriasis.
  • Pustular psoriasis: A rare type that presents with noticeable pustular lesions, either in large patches (systemic pustular psoriasis) or smaller areas like the palms or soles.
  • Generalized erythrodermic psoriasis: The least common form, characterized by a red, flaky skin rash that covers the entire body and causes intense itching or burning.

  • Psoriatic arthritis: Leads to joint swelling, pain, and typical arthritis symptoms. Sometimes, joint symptoms or nail changes are the only indications of psoriatic arthritis. The severity varies, and any joint in the body can be affected. Untreated stiffness and joint damage can result in permanent joint damage.
  • psoriasis causes symptoms and treatment

When to Seek Medical Attention

If you experience signs and symptoms suggestive of psoriasis, it is advisable to seek medical attention. Additionally, consult a doctor promptly if you notice:

  • Severe or widespread symptoms.
  • Discomfort and pain.
  • Skin lesions that cause concern.
  • Joint problems, such as pain, swelling, or difficulties with daily activities.
  • Lack of improvement despite treatment.
By being aware of the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and seeking appropriate treatment, individuals affected by psoriasis can effectively manage the condition and minimize its impact on their daily lives. If you have any further questions or concerns, it is recommended to consult with your healthcare provider or a medical professional for personalized advice and guidance.

Causes of Psoriasis

Psoriasis is believed to be caused by a malfunction in the immune system, resulting in an accelerated regeneration of skin cells. The exact cause of this immune system disorder is still unknown, but it is thought to be influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The condition is not contagious.

Genetic Predisposition

Psoriasis can be inherited from previous generations within a family. The genetic component passed down from biological parents can contribute to the development of this condition in their children.

Triggers for Psoriasis

While many individuals with psoriasis may remain symptom-free for extended periods, certain environmental factors can trigger the onset or exacerbation of the condition.

These triggers may include:

  • Infections, such as strep throat or skin infections
  • Weather conditions, particularly cold and dry weather
  • Skin trauma, such as cuts, scratches, insect bites, or severe sunburn
  • Stress
  • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Certain medications, including lithium, antihypertensives, and antimalarials
  • Abrupt discontinuation of oral or systemic corticosteroids
Risk Factors

Several factors increase the likelihood of developing psoriasis, including:

  • Family history of the disease
  • High levels of stress, which can impact the immune system
  • Smoking, which both raises the risk of developing psoriasis and worsens existing symptoms
Diagnosis of Psoriasis

To diagnose psoriasis, a doctor will inquire about symptoms and examine the affected skin or nails. In some cases, a small skin sample may be taken for microscopic examination (biopsy) to confirm the type of psoriasis and rule out other skin conditions.

Treatment of Psoriasis

The primary objective of psoriasis treatment is to inhibit the rapid growth of skin cells and alleviate areas of scaly skin. Treatment options may include:

  • Topical medications: Often prescribed for mild to moderate cases, these creams and ointments can be used alone or in combination with other treatments. Common topical drugs include corticosteroids, retinoids, anthralins, tar, vitamin D3 derivatives, salicylic acid, and calcineurin inhibitors.
  • Systemic medications: Used for severe psoriasis, these medications are taken orally or by injection. Commonly prescribed systemic drugs include cyclosporine, methotrexate, and sulfasalazine.
  • Phototherapy: This method employs light rays such as UVA, UVB, or laser to treat psoriasis. The ultraviolet (UV) rays target and damage the DNA in cells, helping to eliminate damaged skin cells.
  • Biologic drugs: These medications target specific components of the immune response. However, due to their cost, they are not widely used.
Treatment for psoriasis depends on the severity of the condition and individual response to previous treatments. It may involve trying different medications or combinations until an effective approach is found. It's important to note that psoriasis often recurs, particularly when triggers are present. Individuals with psoriasis may also have other underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or depression, which will be carefully managed by their healthcare provider.

Is Psoriasis Dangerous?

Having psoriasis increases the risk of developing certain other conditions, including psoriatic arthritis (joint inflammation and pain), eye problems like conjunctivitis and uveitis, obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart-related diseases, other autoimmune diseases (such as celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn's disease), and mental health issues like low self-esteem and depression.

The information provided in this article helps to understand what psoriasis is, recognize its symptoms, and outlines methods to control the disease, alleviate itching, and minimize skin damage. If you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms of psoriasis, it is important to seek immediate medical attention for necessary support and guidance.

Remember, psoriasis is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. By working closely with healthcare professionals, individuals with psoriasis can find effective treatment strategies to control their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Answered by Doctor Jane, 4 months ago