What Is Psoriasis ?
Psoriasis is called Kitibha in Ayurveda is a skin disease that is accompanied by systemic inflammation. The typical form causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin covered with silvery scales. Although they can appear anywhere on the body, the patches occur mostly on the elbows, knees, other parts of the legs, scalp, lower back, face, palms, and soles of the feet. Psoriasis may also affect the fingernails, toenails, the soft tissues of the genitals, and inside the mouth. However, it is important to recognize that psoriasis is associated with systemic metabolic disorders including an increased prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and cardiovascular disease. Some people get psoriatic arthritis in which the joints become inflamed and painful.
What Causes Psoriasis?
The cause of psoriasis isn’t fully known, but it’s thought to be related to an immune system problem with cells in your body. Overactive T cells trigger other immune responses. What causes T cells to malfunction in people with psoriasis isn’t entirely clear. Researchers have found genes that are linked to the development of psoriasis, but environmental factors also play a role.
Psoriasis typically starts or worsens because of a trigger that you may be able to identify and avoid. Factors that may trigger psoriasis include:
- Infections, such as strep throat or skin infections
- Injury to the skin, such as a cut or scrape, bug bite, or a severe sunburn
- Cold weather
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Certain medications — including lithium, which is prescribed for bipolar disorder; high blood pressure medications such as beta blockers; antimalarial drugs; and iodides.
What are symptoms of Psoriasis?
Psoriasis symptoms differ from person to person and depend on the type of psoriasis. Areas of psoriasis can be as small as a few flakes on the scalp or elbow, or cover the majority of the body.
The most common symptoms of plaque psoriasis include:
- red, raised, inflamed patches of skin
- silver-white scales or plaques on the red patches
- dry skin that may crack and bleed
- soreness around patches
- itching and burning sensations around patches
- thick, pitted nails
- painful, swollen joints
Not every person will experience all of these symptoms. Some people will experience entirely different symptoms if they have a less common type of psoriasis.
Most people with psoriasis go through “cycles” of symptoms. The condition may cause severe symptoms for a few days or weeks, and then the symptoms may clear up and be almost unnoticeable. Then, in a few weeks or if made worse by a common psoriasis trigger, the condition may flare up again. Sometimes, symptoms of psoriasis disappear completely.
How Does Psoriasis Affect Quality of Life?
People with psoriasis may have significant physical discomfort and some disability. Because of itching and pain, they may have trouble taking care of themselves or others. Walking and sleeping may be difficult. Medical care is frequent and costly and can disrupt work and school schedules. People with psoriasis may feel self-conscious about their appearance. That can lead to depression and social isolation.
How is Psoriasis Diagnosed?
Psoriasis may be difficult to diagnose. It often looks like other skin diseases, such as eczema. Examining a small skin sample under a microscope can help your doctor make the diagnosis.
There are several types of psoriasis, including:
- Plaque– Skin lesions (damaged areas) are red at the base and covered by silvery scales.
- Guttate– Small, drop-shaped lesions on the trunk, limbs, and scalp. It is most often set off by upper respiratory infections such as a sore throat from streptococcal bacteria.
- Pustular – Blisters of noninfectious pus on the skin, possibly caused by medicines, infections, stress, or exposure to certain chemicals.
- Inverse– Smooth, red patches in the folds of the skin near the genitals, under the breasts, or in the armpits. Symptoms may be worsened by friction and sweating.
- Erythrodermic– Widespread reddening and scaling of the skin may be a reaction to severe sunburn or to taking cortisone or other medicines. It can also be caused by prolonged, poorly controlled psoriasis. Erythrodermic psoriasis can be very serious and requires immediate medical attention.