Psoriasis is a chronic condition in which cells build up on the surface of the skin, causing rough, scaly, dry patches and other related symptoms. If you think you may be showing symptoms of this condition, then it is a good idea to know about what causes psoriasis and the treatment options available if you are diagnosed with this skin condition.
Psoriasis is characterized by the appearance of skin patches, which are usually red and appear to be covered with silvery scales. Other common symptoms include dry, cracked skin; itching, burning or pain in the affected areas; thickened or ridged fingernails and toenails; and swollen, stiff joints. These symptoms often regress before reappearing after a period of time.
While experts aren’t exactly sure what causes psoriasis, it is thought to be linked to an issue with immune system cells known as T cells. While these white blood cells are meant to fight off foreign substances in the body, psoriasis causes them to attack healthy skin cells. This affects the life cycle of the cells, meaning that instead of dying, the old cells build up on the surface of the skin. In addition, other immune responses are triggered, including dilation of blood cells and accumulation of white blood cells around the affected areas.
Although it’s not clear why psoriasis occurs, doctors do know that it is more common among people who have a family history of this condition, especially among parents; people who experience frequent viral and bacterial infections, especially those with HIV; people experiencing excessive stress; those who are obese; and those who smoke.
Since psoriasis is a chronic condition, there is no cure. However, most people’s symptoms are caused or exacerbated by environmental triggers. By tracking your symptom flares with the help of our doctor, you may be able to identify and subsequently avoid these stimuli. Common triggers include infections like strep throat; skin injury, including a cut, bug bite or sunburn; stress; cold weather; smoking; heavy alcohol consumption; and certain prescription medications, including lithium, beta blockers and antimalarial drugs.
In addition to avoiding triggers, people who have psoriasis can often ease their symptoms with simple self-care methods. These include bathing daily with lukewarm water, mild soaps and Epsom salts; using heavy, ointment-based moisturizer at least once a day; and avoiding alcohol consumption. For more serious cases, topical medications may be necessary to soothe the skin, or phototherapy or laser therapy may be required.
At Worcester Dermatology Associates in Worcester and Chelmsford Dermatology Associates in Chelmsford, we offer all of these treatment options and more! Let our experts be your guide as you journey through the ups and downs of psoriasis. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more about how we can help to relieve your psoriasis symptoms.