What Is It?
Psoriasis is a recurring, auto-immune skin condition that results in the quick accumulation of skin cells.
This accumulation results in a scaly appearance of the skin.
In addition, the surface of the skin may also appear red and inflamed for some people.
The usual appearance of psoriasis though is there are reddish, thick patches of inflamed skin whose surface are usually characterized by silver or white scales.
There are times when these skin patches crack and result in bleeding.
Psoriasis basically develops because the skin reproduction process is abnormally fast.
Normally, the cells of the skin grow deep and rise to the surface slowly.
Then, they would fall off eventually.
One month is the normal life cycle of skin cells.
For individuals suffering from psoriasis though, this entire cycle happens and gets completed in just a couple of days.
This does not give the skin cells ample time to fall off first.
This quick overproduction process results in the cells of the skin getting accumulated.
Psoriasis may affect any part of the body, including the face, scalp, neck, feet, and hands.
However, the scaly patches most commonly develop on the joints, such as on the knees and elbows.
There is also a less common form of psoriasis that develops in the groin areas, the mouth, and the nails.
How Common Is It?
Roughly 100 million people across the world suffer from psoriasis.
What Are Its Causes?
Up to now, it has still not been determined what exactly the cause of psoriasis is.
Nevertheless, after decades of study, scientists now have a basic idea of two factors that contribute to the development of psoriasis.
These two factors are the following:
Some genes can increase a person’s likelihood of developing psoriasis.
If anyone of your immediate family members is suffering from psoriasis, your chances of developing this condition too are increased.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that the number of individuals who have it and a genetic tendency is not that significant.
Roughly only 2-3% of individuals who have this gene develops psoriasis.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disorder.
A condition is considered “autoimmune” when it develops because the body is attacking itself.
In psoriasis, T cells (a type of white blood cells) mistakenly attack the cells of the skin.
In a normal body, when bacteria or infections attack the body, it sends white blood cells in response to fight them.
This mistaken attack results in the skin cell production becoming too rapid.
As mentioned earlier, the old skin cells are not given ample time to shed, resulting in the accumulation of skin cells.
This causes a scaly buildup of skin.
What Are Its Different Types?
There are five types of psoriasis. These are the following:
This kind of psoriasis is extremely rare.
When it develops, it usually covers huge areas of the body all the same time.
The affected skin looks almost as if it has a sunburn.
Any scaly patches usually shed in huge sheets or portions.
For individuals suffering from this kind of psoriasis, becoming extremely ill or developing a fever is not unusual.
This type of psoriasis is characterized by areas of bright, shiny, reddish, and inflamed skin.
Usually, these patches develop in the groin areas, below the breasts, below the underarms, or near the skin folds in the genital areas.
This type of psoriasis is more prevalent in adults.
It is characterized by wide patches of inflamed, reddish skin and blisters that are white and filled with pus.
While this type of psoriasis can develop extensively across the body, it is usually localized to smaller areas such as the feet or the hands.
This kind of psoriasis is more prevalent in childhood.
It is characterized by small, pinkish marks that usually develop on the legs, arms, and the torso.
These marks are seldom elevated or thick.
This type of psoriasis is the most common one.
Around 80% of all individuals who are suffering from psoriasis have this type.
It is characterized by reddish, inflamed patches of skin.
Often, these patches are covered with plaques or scales that are silver or white in color.
These patches may also appear elevated or thick.
The parts of the body commonly affected by this type of psoriasis include the scalp, the knees, and the elbows.
What Are Its Symptoms?
The signs and symptoms of psoriasis vary depending on the type and on the individual.
Some people with psoriasis could have it on huge portions of their bodies, while some people with psoriasis could have only a couple of flaky skin on their elbows or scalp.
As mentioned earlier, plaque psoriasis is the most common type of this skin condition.
The following are some of its most common symptoms:
- Patches of skin that are inflamed, raised, and reddish in color
- White or silvery plaque or scales covering these patches
- Very dry skin that is prone to cracking and bleeding
- Joints that are swollen and painful
- Nails that are thick and pitted
- Burning sensation and itchiness surrounding the patches
- Soreness around the patches
It should be noted that not all individuals suffering from psoriasis will develop all of the symptoms listed above.
In addition, for individuals who are suffering from a less common kind of psoriasis, the symptoms experienced may be extremely different from the ones mentioned.
The majority of psoriasis sufferers experience the symptoms in cycles.
For a couple of days or weeks, the symptoms experienced may be intense.
Then, they could clear up and seem like there is no problem at all.
Then something could trigger the condition again, causing the symptoms to resurface.
There are even times when the symptoms go away entirely.
When a person suffering from psoriasis currently does not have any active symptoms of it, it can be considered that he or she is in “remission.”
He or she may be “symptom-free” for now, but it does not exactly mean that the condition will not resurface in the future.