Psoriasis Awareness Week 1st – 8th November
Psoriasis is a skin condition which often gets overlooked due to its similarities to eczema and lack of understanding. Psoriasis is an immune inflammatory condition which can also affect your joints as well as your skin, and currently affects around 3% of the population. Although cases are seen in all ages, it is often more common is young adults and the elderly between the ages of 50 and 60 years old.
Signs and Symptoms
Psoriasis mainly presents itself as red inflamed patches which tend to crack and bleed.
Other signs include scaly and itchy skin which is often raised in places.
It can occur on any part of your body but is more common on hands, joints and the scalp.
Some people also suffer from psoriatic arthritis, which causes pain and inflammation in your joints.
Causes and Misconceptions
Psoriasis is linked to your immune system and is a result of overproduction of your immune cells known as the T-cells. The T-cells are normally activated when there is an infection or after a wound; helping to heal your body. However, in psoriasis your body starts to believe your skin cells are an ‘infection’ and triggers the same response. This as a result, stimulates the inflammatory chemicals which then initiate the healing process. One of the ways your body does this is by speeding up the skin maturity period. In normal conditions, your skin takes around 21-28 days to renew itself and get rid of dead skin cells. In psoriasis, this period is shortened to about 10 days which leads to your skin to not fully forming and you shed some of the healthy skin cells which leaves a psoriatic plaque. Although in some individuals these plaques may present all the time, in others the response is triggered by external factors. Very often, anxiety, stress, environmental changes, injury and changes in hormones can cause or worsen flare-ups. Some people also react to certain medications and infections, therefore it is advised to keep a diary of what actually triggers your psoriasis.
Psoriasis is not contagious and cannot be passed on one person to another. It is a result of your genes and is very much individualised.
It is also not a result of poor hygiene and lack of cleanliness, but is in fact a lifelong condition which not only affects you but also your loved ones.
Many people become self-conscious and are embarrassed which can also lead to depression, therefore it is important that we educate and raise awareness on this subject.
Treatments and Support
The most frustrating aspect for some lies with the lack of cure for psoriasis. Although it affects almost 2 million people, there is no cure for the condition and the treatment is not always affective. As the condition is varied between individuals, it also means that the treatment options are different; meaning what may work for one person may not work for the next. Due to this reason, a lot of time is spent on trying new treatments.
Treatment options range from topical moisturisers, creams, shampoos and bath emollients, to using UV light, oral treatments and biologic injections. Moisturising is vital for management of psoriasis as it helps to soothe and relieve some of the symptoms such as dryness, itchiness and scaling of the plaques. This also allows better absorption of other treatment creams. Some great moisturisers include creams from Avène and Eucerin as well as La Roche-Posay.
If you have any concerns or think that you may have psoriasis then make sure you contact your GP straight away to get your diagnosis confirmed, as many dermatological conditions present themselves in a similar manner. If you already are diagnosed then make sure to view some of the online support groups such as the Psoriasis Association and National Psoriasis Foundation who provide information and help. You can also contact me if you have any questions on firstname.lastname@example.org.