Everything You Really Need To Know About Psoriasis
So you found some lesions on your skin, which are causing some itching, burning and pain as your skin is irritated and you’re not sure what is going? Ever heard of psoriasis?
What is it?
“Psoriasis most commonly appears as scaly red spots on the elbows, knees and trunk”, it’s often confused with eczema or ringworm, and psoriasis on the scalp can look like a bad case of dandruff, although patches of psoriasis are scalier, thicker and persistent, explains dermatologist, Dr. Mohamed Docrat, who runs a psoriasis treatment clinic in Cape Town.
A common, chronic, relapsing inflammatory condition that primarily affects the skin, including the scalp, but which may also involve the finger and toe nails, and joints. It is caused by inflammation resulting from over-activity of the immune system. It is characterised by relapses and remissions.
Sounds curable? However, it is incurable, which means that once psoriasis occurs, it may reoccur for life.Whilst all ages may be affected, but it most commonly begins in your teenage and early adult years; before the age of 40.
The exact number of people in South Africa with psoriasis is unknown, but worldwide it affects more than 125 million people. The most common skin form of psoriasis, occurs in 9 out of 10 cases, is plaque psoriasis, characterised by clearly demarcated patches or ‘plaques’ of thick, red skin, covered with white or sliver scales, occurring usually on both sides of the body over the back of the elbows, front of the knees, on the lower back.
Most importantly, psoriasis is treatable, which is something that you need to remember. A specialist dermatologist, Dr Irshad Essack, says “A careful assessment is essential for a number of reasons, as there are various types of psoriasis. Sometimes it may involve other areas of the body, such as joints, where it can cause deformities and a crippling arthritis that affects movement and getting about.”
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Not All Is Lost!
Thankfully, the majority of people with psoriasis-around 80%, are only mild-to-moderate.
There are different treatments, such as shampoos, creams and lotions, which are generally easy and convenient to apply, even over the scalp, and, unlike the older therapies, such as tar (seriously), they are not messy, smelly and do not stain clothing.
Stress is a major cause of flare-ups in people with psoriasis, adds Dr Essack. It is important to manage stress better at work and at home as it could make a big difference. Avoiding injuries to the skin, including sun burn, scratching and scrubbing is vital, as skin trauma can result in development of psoriasis in new areas.
Keep skin well moisturised as it reduces dryness and helps to alleviate the itch. A healthy diet, staying well-hydrated and exercise is valuable for managing the stresses of daily life. Keep in mind that if you’re experienced any of these symptoms, a proper diagnosis is vital.