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Psoriasis : Causes, symptoms and treatments

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psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that results in the thickening and scaling of the skin. Although it is a non-contagious condition, the dried and flaky skin can rapidly proliferate in the affected person thus covering up a large portion of the skin. It generally affects the skin above and around the elbows, knees, and scalp. They can vary in intensity from mild scalding to thick plaques with red inflamed skin.

Psoriasis is an incurable and long term condition and the symptoms can escalate during the cold winter months. They can also stay for years in remission. Upon treatment, they can be prevented from worsening.

Causes

Psoriasis could result out of a number of factors, including emotional stress to streptococcal infection. Lowered immunity or inherited defect in the immune function could also flare up the symptoms. It has been observed that psoriasis can run in the family gene, although it may also skip generations. Although the skin condition does not have any serious health impacts, they can be stressful and also cause confidence issues to some extent.

Other common psoriasis triggers include

  • Strep throat
  • Certain medicines such as lithium
  • Extremely cold and dry weather
  • Cuts and scratches that leave the skin exposed
  • Bad sunburn

Symptoms

Normally, psoriasis is local skin condition and remains limited to only a small area. However, they may also get aggravated and spread to larger areas or other parts of the body. The symptoms can vary from person to person. The most common symptoms include

  • Red, inflamed skin covered with dry flakes
  • Itchiness around the affected area sometimes also accompanied by burning and soreness
  • Small spots with scaly skin
  • Skin dryness accompanied by cracking
  • Bleeding when the scale is peeled away

Consequences

People with psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing folate deficiency which could result in birth defects and disrupted nerve function. Folate deficiency also increases the risk of heart disease. Prolonged usage of psoriasis medication can also increase the risk of skin cancer. Other problems include heart problems, obesity, and diabetes. The condition also results in bad body temperature regulation and sudden fever, chills, muscle weakness or weight loss. In some cases, the affected person also experiences an over accumulation of fluids and an electrolyte imbalance. Sometimes, the symptoms are very mild but if neglected, it could lead to complications such as psoriatic arthritis, arthritis mutilans and have negative impacts upon psychology and emotions.

Treatments

There are a number of treatment options for psoriasis and the effectiveness of each will depend on the type of psoriasis and the amount of skin involved. If the condition is mild, covering less than 10% of the body, topical treatments are good enough. This would include sprays, lotions, and medicated creams. Occasional steroid injections could also help relieve the symptoms. If it involves a larger part of the skin, medical assistance is required and they are treated through ultraviolet light treatments and more systematic medicines. It should, however, be noted that almost all the medications for psoriasis come with their own set of side effects. Therefore, it is better to use them under strict medical supervision.

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