Psoriasis is a surprisingly common, but non-contagious, skin condition that leads to rapid skin cell reproduction resulting in red, dry patches of thickened skin which are thought to be a result of the rapid build-up of skin cells. The skin of the elbows, knees and scalp are often most affected by psoriasis but the condition can occur anywhere on the body.
Psoriasis comes and goes. The person with the condition will sometimes remain clear, and in remission, for years at a time before the next outbreak. The causes of psoriasis are hazy but there are known triggers.
Common Causes of Psoriasis
Genetics plays a part because it is common for psoriasis to be found in members of the same family.
The Immune system is also thought to play a major role.
Certain medications can cause an outbreak or flare-up of psoriasis and these include antimalarial drugs; beta-blockers; corticosteroids, Indomethacin; and Lithium. Never start such medications without informing your doctor if you have a family history of psoriasis.
The condition can flare up with new lesions a few days after injury to the skin either by being cut, scratched, rubbed or severely sunburned.
Stress is an important trigger for flare-ups while some can trace their original outbreak of the condition to a particularly stressful incident. And of course, becoming stressed about having the condition of psoriasis itself only compounds the problem.
Climate plays a significant role in psoriasis when cold and dry winter weather and the lack of moisture from overheated buildings poses a real challenge. Time spent in a hot and sunny climate (but without the drying effect of air conditioning) can improve the situation.
Other triggers include obesity, bacterial and viral infections (including HIV), hormone imbalance, the habit of smoking and indulging in heavy drinking.
Five Different Types of Psoriasis
Some four and a half million people in the United States have been diagnosed with this condition, spread equally between both men and women. Once diagnosed, there are various treatments a sufferer can turn to, depending on the type of psoriasis, the severity and how much of the body is affected:
For mild versions of psoriasis involving small areas of the body, the doctor will often prescribe topical creams, lotions or sprays.
Tough or resistant areas of psoriasis may be prescribed a small local injection of steroids.
For moderate to severe types of psoriasis, involving large areas of the body, systemic or total body treatments such as oral medications, light treatments or injections may be prescribed. Unfortunately, those stronger medications usually have greater associated possible risks and side effects.
Many of those with psoriasis (up to 30%) will then go on to suffer from psoriatic arthritis too.
Fortunately, there are natural and safe products available to use for both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis which can dramatically reduce the symptoms of the conditions and even control their outbreaks, making it unnecessary to resort to pharmaceutical medications and treatments. If you, or someone close to you, suffer from psoriasis, it is worthwhile doing your own research so that you are well informed.