The uncomfortable truth about psoriasis

Psoriasis is a disease which affects 125 million people world wide according to the World Psoriasis Day consortium. It is initially a condition that was believed to be related to biblical leprosy and is as such one of the most misunderstood conditions of our time. It was only in the 19th century that a Viennese dermatologist gave it the name we all know today and following that, in the 20th century that different kinds of sub classification began. It is one of the oldest conditions known to mankind and, in some forms, can be quite fatal.

The causes of psoriasis remain as much of a mystery as the day it was first named. Some tend to liken this condition to the genes, others blame a falsely triggered immune system. Whatever the cause might be, it is definitely a condition that can cause discomfort and embarrassment among its sufferers and could in some cases be a cause of feelings of low self-esteem. And, unfortunately, it has no cure.

So, what is psoriasis and what are the different symptoms attributed to this condition? As a matter of fact, the skin on your body renews itself every 28 to 30 days, moves to the surface and then flakes off in the form of dead skin cells. With psoriasis, the renewal process is accelerated to completion in anything from 3 to 5 days but doesn’t ever flake off. Instead, it forms an elevated patch of inflamed and silvery skin and can cause some severe itching or irritation. The infected patch of skin is also known as a psoriatic plaque. Psoriasis is generally classified according to its location, texture and appearance and can be considered or named as one of the following:

  • Psoriasis Vulgaris – Also known as plaque psoriasis, this is the most common form of this kind, affecting up to 90 percent of all psoriasis sufferers. It appears as elevated patches of silvery skin which might more accurately be referred to as lesions.
  • Pustular Psoriasis – This form of psoriasis is more commonly found on the hands and feet and appears as little white blisters filled with pus which consists largely of white blood cells (leukocytes) which are not contagious.
  • Inverse Psoriasis – A form of psoriasis naturally found under the armpits, under the breasts, the groin and between the buttocks. Unlike plaque psoriasis, inverse psoriasis occurs as a reddened patch of shiny skin but without any of the elevation and is especially sensitive to any irritation or sweat.
  • Guttate Psoriasis – Occurring in the form of drops with a slightly reddened colour, this form of psoriasis can appear over a more widespread area of the body including around the scalp.
  • Erythrodermic Psoriasis – Quite similar to plaque psoriasis in the sense of texture and skin appearance, erythrodermic psoriasis is known as a more aggressive form and can affect a larger area of the body and can be fatal if not treated.

Although current research on psoriasis remains undeveloped, certain everyday factors such smoking (tobacco products), alcohol abuse and excessive stress are known to aggravate this condition and should best be avoided.

Important Note: While the information contained in this article is provided in good faith, we always recommend you consult a qualified doctor or physician. Your doctor can provide you professional advice for your particular situation.

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