Psoriasis is an irritating skin condition affecting more than 200 million people worldwide. For some people it represents a mildly bothersome malady, for others it means a huge reduction in quality of life. The problem is that there is no cure available for psoriasis. Furthermore, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for treating the condition.
There are indeed a variety of ways to treat psoriasis, but in most cases a long trial-and-error process will be required. The first step towards treating psoriasis, however, is understanding what you are dealing with.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common, immune-mediated skin disease depicted by flaky, red, crusty patches of skin. The most common areas of the body affected are the knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp, but other areas can also be affected. These scaly patches of skin are usually extremely itchy and irritating, and while it is more prevalent in people below the age of 35, it can strike at any age.
Sufferers of the condition often have periods when the symptoms are severe followed by periods of mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. The symptoms vary depending on the type of psoriasis the sufferer is affected with. There are five main types: plaque, inverse, guttate, pustular, and erythrodermic, the most common of which is plaque psoriasis. This is the kind that manifests in the red scaly patches described above.
Psoriasis is not contagious so cannot be passed from one person to another. In addition, the condition does not discriminate between genders or race; it affects everybody equally.
Why Does It Happen?
Exactly why psoriasis occurs is not known, but it is thought that a number of factors contribute to the development of the condition. Genetics seem to play a major role in a person’s susceptibility to the condition. Approximately one-third of sufferers say there is a family history of the disease. In addition to that, a loci (specific gene location) associated with the condition has already been identified by researchers.
Other contributing factors include lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and stress; medication that includes things like beta-blockers, lithium, and terbinafine can also cause flare-ups. In addition, people with HIV are reported to have more severe psoriasis flare-ups.
Types of Treatments Available
As mentioned earlier, there is, unfortunately, no absolute cure for psoriasis. For those who find their quality of life being disrupted by this condition the only hope is to find suitable treatments to keep the psoriasis under control. There are three categories of treatment available: topical, phototherapy, and systemic. Depending on the nature and severity of your psoriasis your doctor could recommend one or several different types of treatment.
- Topical – Includes ointments and creams that are applied to the affected area of skin. This is generally used for milder, less persistent cases of psoriasis.
- Phototherapy – Sessions of exposing the skin to various ultraviolet light is used in this category of treatment. The aim is to penetrate the skin and slow the development of the affected skin.
- Systemic – This type of treatment involves targeting the body from the inside with injected or oral medications.
It can be difficult for doctors to identify the most effective treatment for a particular case so they may try a certain method for several months before reviewing and moving on to a different one.
Living with Psoriasis
Living with psoriasis can be miserable. It can affect many aspects of your day-to-day life. While you may not be able to completely rid yourself of the condition, you can take proactive steps to minimise the impact it has on your life. As well as working closely with your doctor to find a suitable treatment, you should also ensure that you eat well and keep your stress levels to a minimum.
People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from severe psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Maintaining a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat will not only be beneficial for your overall health, it can also help to keep your psoriasis under control.
Stress is a common psoriasis trigger and could be a big contributor to the severity of your suffering. It can also create circular problems where the stress exacerbates the problem and the problem exacerbates your stress levels.
It can be difficult to avoid stress completely, but it is important to take the time to identify what is stressful to you so that you can take steps to reduce your exposure to those things. Take time to relax frequently and make a conscious effort to do more of the things you enjoy.
Find additional information on psoriasis here.