There are several autoimmune conditions in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. Immune system normally guards against germs like virus and bacteria. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them. However, today we’re looking at psoriasis, a condition that causes rapid build-up of skin cells. This build-up of cells causes scaling on the skin surface.
Inflammation and redness around the skin is common. Psoriatic scales are typically whitish-silver and develop in thick, red patches. Sometimes, these patches will crack and bleed. Psoriasis occurs as a result of a sped-up skin process. Normally, skin cells are made and replace every three to four weeks, but in psoriasis, this process only takes about three to seven days. The resulting build-up of skin cells is what create the patches associated with psoriasis.
Even the process isn’t fully understood, it’s thought to be related to problems with the immune system. In people with psoriasis, the immune system attacks the skin cells by mistakes. Psoriasis can run in families, although the exact role of genetics plays in causing psoriasis is unclear.
Possible of triggers of psoriasis include an injury to skin, throat infections and using certain medicines. The condition is not contagious, so it can’t be spread form individual to individual.
How psoriasis is diagnosed
General practitioners and doctors normally diagnose psoriasis on the appearance of skin. In rare cases, small sample of skin called a biopsy will be sent to the laboratory for examination under a microscope.
This determines the exact type of psoriasis and rules out other skin disorders, for example as lichen planus, pityriasis rosea and lichen simplex. You may be referred to a specialist in diagnosing and treating skin condition (dermatologist) if your doctors is uncertain about diagnosis, or if your condition is severe.
There’s no cure for psoriasis, but a range of treatments can improve symptoms and the appearance of skin patches.
In most cases, the first treatment used will be a topical treatment, such as vitamin D analogues or topical corticosteroids. Topical treatments are creams and ointments applied to the skin.
If these are not effective, or your condition is more severe, a treatment called phototherapy may be used. Phototherapy involves exposing your skin to certain types of ultraviolet light.
In severe cases, where the above treatments are ineffective, systemic treatments may be used. These are oral or injected medicines that work throughout the whole body.
Living with psoriasis
Although psoriasis is just a minor irritation for some people, it can have a significant impact on quality of life for those more severely affected. For example, some people with psoriasis have low self-esteem because of the effect the condition has on their appearance.
It’s also quite common to develop tenderness, pain and swelling in the joints and connective tissue. This is known as psoriatic arthritis.
Find out more about living with psoriasis
Speak to a Doctor or general practitioner or your healthcare team if you have psoriasis and you have any concerns about your physical and mental well-being.