Everybody loves to go sleeveless, may it be for style or comfort. However, psoriasis, skin rashes and other visible skin conditions may often make you hesitant to go sleeveless.
In this condition, red patches and inflammations appear on the skin which become readily visible. Psoriasis is basically a result of your anomalous immune system where it attacks the healthy skin cells, rapidly accelerates the cell’s life cycle and eventually kills them. The dead skin cells then form red patches - silvery scales on your skin.
It is a serious skin condition that not only damages your skin but also affects your morale by making you conscious of your appearance. Health organizations around the world are trying to increase their support to fight the stigma in society about this painful disease.
You must consult a dermatologist if you are suffering from this skin disease. However, it is always good to understand the symptoms or the possible risk factors behind the disease.
Signs and Symptoms:
Psoriasis comes with different signs or symptoms for different people. It can even show up at any part of your body – mouth, lips, scalp, nails, ears, eyelids etc. Few of the most common signs of Psoriasis are given below:
- Very dry or cracked skin which often suffer from bleeding
- Itchy and burning skin, soreness
- Red patches of thick scales on the skin
- Rigged nails
- Stiff and may be swollen joints
- Small patches on a limited area of skin or over a large area of your body parts
Types of Psoriasis:
- Plaque Psoriasis: Also known as Vulgaris Psoriasis - it is the most common type of psoriasis where red and raised skin patches (plaques) appear with a covering of white or silvery scales of dead skin cells. These itchy and often painful patches can occur anywhere like scalp, knees, elbows. It can even appear on your genitals and other soft tissue areas.
- Guttate Psoriasis: The second most common form of the disease - approximately 10% of the psoriasis patients suffer from this. It usually appears in children or young adults. The affected skin area tends to develop small, dot-shaped lesions covered by thinner scales compared to plaques. Guttate is usually triggered by bacterial infections such as strep infection and generally occurs on your arms, legs or scalp.
- Inverse Psoriasis: Smooth red patches appearing mostly on friction-prone body folds like armpits, under the breasts, in the groin or around the genital area. The condition may arise due to fungal infections and gets worsen with sweat and friction.
- Pustular Psoriasis: Relatively uncommon type of the disease and characterized by small pus-filled blisters (pustules) surrounded by red skin. The pus containing white blood cells is non-infectious and non-contagious in nature. This type of psoriasis generally appears on arms, legs or fingertips
- Nail Psoriasis: Nail psoriasis attacks finger or toe nails leading to yellow pits, discoloration and other nail abnormalities. The affected nails often get separated from nail beds and eventually crumble.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis: The most severe case of psoriasis where the red patches cover almost your entire body causing intensely itchy and burning skin. This widespread and painful psoriasis is often a result of unstable plaque psoriasis. Since, it is an advanced stage of psoriasis, it is of-course the rarest form in the lot. Only 3% of all psoriasis patients may suffer from this condition.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: can be life-threatening and should be treated immediately. Consult a dermatologist right away if you are suffering from this.
Possible Causes and Risk Factors:
Psoriasis is a skin condition where the life cycles of skin cells are rapidly accelerated and eventually there is a formation of scales (dead cells) on your skin. The exact root cause behind this abnormal skin condition has not yet been discovered. However, ongoing researches and studies have shown that psoriasis is a result of malfunctioning immune system.
Human blood contains T cells (a type of white blood cell) which plays an important role in fighting against the foreign substances (such as virus or bacteria) inside your body. Now, in case of psoriasis, these T cells along with other white blood cells lose the ability to distinguish between healthy skin cells and foreign substances. As a result, they start attacking the healthy cells instead of the actual culprits. So, in an attempt to fight an infection, the T cells kill the healthy cells by mistake.
Since, T cells primarily control the immunity of the body, they even help in producing new skin cells. The rapid cycles of generation and degeneration of skin cells lead to a condition where your skin stops healing with the same rate. The result is red and itchy patches on your skin!
Although the definite root causes are not yet known, few factors are proven to be responsible behind this skin disease.
- Infections (viral/bacterial): A weak immune system is more likely to be a prey to psoriasis. People with HIV or suffering from recurring infections such as strep throat may be at greater risk than those with healthy immune system.
- Genes: Scientists have proven that this disease can occur genetically. That means having family members (one parent or both the parents) with psoriasis increases your vulnerability of getting the disease.
- Obesity: Obesity has many adverse side effects. Psoriasis can occur in people with excess weight due to the increased number of skin folds and creases in their body.
- Vitamin D deficiency: Vitamin D deficiency can also lead to develop psoriasis.
- Smoking/Alcohol: Smoking tobacco products or excessive consumption of alcohol increases the risk exponentially. They may either contribute to the initiation of the disease or enhance the severity of any existing psoriasis.
- Stress: Stress has an indirect impact on this disease because stress may affect your immune system and thereby aggravates the condition.
- Injury: A bodily injury or scar, if not properly taken care of, may get an infection which is an easy target for psoriasis to develop.
As already mentioned, psoriasis is a result of an anomaly in the immune system. And, it’s not surprising that a weak immune system develops diseases quickly. Few of them are:
- Psoriatic arthritis: Psoriasis causes inflamed joints which may lead to arthritis. Around 30% of all psoriatic patients eventually develop psoriatic arthritis. So, joint pain or inflammation may give an indication of psoriasis itself when your skin may not have developed any sign of it yet.
- Obesity: Obesity and psoriasis are definitely linked, but it is not very clear what causes the other. Psoriasis can affect your joints and other body parts which restrict your activities. This inactive lifestyle may lead to obesity. Interestingly, obese people develop a greater risk of psoriasis due to the creases and folds in their skin.
- Cardiovascular disease: Psoriasis patients are likely to have irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, cholesterol all of which can play a significant role in increasing the chances of cardiovascular diseases or even stroke.
- Eye disorders: Psoriatic patients have risk in developing eye disorders – such as conjunctivitis, uveitis etc.
- Autoimmune diseases: A damaged immune system may lead to Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease etc.
- Kidney problems: Studies show that kidney problems may arise due to severe psoriasis.
- Parkinson’s: Psoriasis patients may have higher risk of developing neurological health conditions such as parkinson’s disease.
- Emotional stress: Emotional stress can be a critical side effect due to psoriasis as people tend have low quality of life along with depression and sometimes less or even no social interactions.
Psoriasis is not contagious! However, it can significantly affect your health and mind. Any symptoms related to psoriasis should immediately be addressed and consulted with a dermatologist.
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