Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that leads to the accelerated growth of the skin cells with the resultant effect of thick scaly patches of skin. Ideally, skin cells experience gradual growth and are shed off every four weeks. New skin cells are generated and they act as the replacement for the skin that is shed. This is not the case in patients suffering from psoriasis as the new cells generated will usually advance to the surface of the skin within a very short time. The result is the accumulation of cells thus creating unsightly patches. These patches differ in size, and will appear in different parts of the body, but most notably the face, the feet, the lower back as well as the scalp. This is a common condition in adults, but also occurs in children.
What causes psoriasis?
Psoriasis is believed to be caused by an autoimmune reaction that causes excessive production of the skin cells. This begins when an individual’s immune system wages war against foreign bodies and infections, but instead of stopping when the infection is cleared, proceeds to attack normal body cells. There is a specific white blood cell that is charged with the responsibility of immune response regulation. This cell is known as the T-cell, and when it fails to carry out this regulation, the result is the excessive growth of skin cells. There are a number of factors that may lead to the occurrence of this condition. These include:
- Injuries suffered on the skin have been linked to plaque psoriasis. Inflammation of the skin, severe itching as well as infections of the skin are all potential triggers.
- Some forms of medication have been known to cause an aggravation of this skin condition, and they include NSAIDS (used to decrease pain and inflammation), beta-blockers (used for treating hypertension) as well as drugs used to treat malaria.
- Alcohol intake has been shown to be risk factor for this skin condition, particularly in young men.
- Emotional stress has been shown to increase the risk of psoriasis as well, as does sunlight. While some patients will attest to benefiting from sunlight, some individuals find that this actually worsens the condition.
- Hormonal changes cause different fluctuations in psoriasis for instance, an expectant woman is likely to be better as far as the formation of plaques is concerned. After delivery, however, this is likely to change with the condition worsening following flare-ups of the same.
What are the treatment options for psoriasis?
The treatment plan for this skin condition is dependent on how severe the condition is as well as whether there are other underlying conditions. Depending on these two factors, the physician will recommend either a cream or an ointment that contains steroidal active ingredients, usually if the psoriasis is not so severe. Phototherapy is also another viable option, and is normally carried out at the physician’s clinic. Oral drugs are used as the last resort when the psoriasis does not respond to the afore-mentioned forms of treatment. Whichever the option, the patient should always check with the physician to ascertain the treatment plan.