A chronic, medical condition that occurs when skin cells grow too fast by sending faulty signals to the immune system, causing new skin cells to form in days instead of weeks. The skin cells begin to pile into lesions that vary in appearance depending on the type of psoriasis. Although the causes still remain unknown, we do know that genetics and the immune system play an important role in the non-contagious skin defect. Psoriasis does not discriminate, people of all ages, genders and races can be affected; however, recent studies show that Caucasians are more prone to the condition than other races. Psoriasis is a lifelong condition that flares up either occasionally or frequently, therefore it is important to keep certain triggers away such as stress, skin injuries, specific medications, allergies, nutrition and climate. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Psoriasis but there are various treatments available that work to relieve each patient’s stage of the condition.
There are five types of psoriasis that vary mostly in appearance and symptoms:
• Plaque Psoriasis: also known as Psoriasis Vulgaris (common) since it is the most popular of the five. It is characterized by raised, inflamed, red patches of skin (plaques) covered by a silvery white scale and is typically found on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back. These plaques cause itchiness, cracking, burning and bleeding. The discomfort can even lead to sleep depravation and lack of concentration if not treated.
• Guttate Psoriasis: affects mainly children or young adults with a history of strep infection and appears as small, red, individual spots on the skin usually on the trunk, arms and legs and occasionally on the scalp face and ears.
• Inverse Psoriasis: can be found in the armpits, groin, under the breasts, and in other skin folds around the genitals and the buttocks. It appears as bright-red lesions that are smooth and shiny, subject to irritation from rubbing and sweating because of its location in skin folds and tender areas.
• Pustular Psoriasis: characterized by white blisters of noninfectious pus surrounded by red skin. It begins with the reddening of the skin followed by formation of pustules and scaling, triggered by infections, sunburn or medications.
• Erythrodermic Psoriasis: an inflammatory form that affects most of the body surface and is recognized by a fiery redness of the skin and the shedding of large scales. It is also accompanied by severe itching and pain, heart rate increase, and fluctuating body temperature. Triggers include infection, emotional stress, alcoholism, and certain medications such as lithium, anti-malarial drugs, and a strong coal tar preparation.