Psoriasis is a common chronic skin condition that is incurable. This disease alters the skin renewal cycle. Usually the lower level of new skin cells takes about a month to move to the outer layer of the skin. Once on the surface, the skin sloughs off. But with psoriasis the new skin cycle takes only a few days. This accelerated process results in dry, itchy skin with silvery scales. The severity of psoriasis is different for everyone and can vary in intensity with each individual. At times the psoriasis is in remission and at other times it is much worse because it spreads.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Psoriasis has a wide variety of symptoms but not every person afflicted has all the symptoms. Some symptoms are just annoying while others are disfiguring. Psoriasis can also appear on any part of the body including the scalp, mouth, genitals, nails and joints. Because the top layer of dead skin cells cannot flake off easily, thickening of the skin develops. Skin is dry and cracked and in some cases the skin bleeds. The skin can also itch or burn. Another common symptom is red patches with silvery scales. These patched can cover small spots or a large area of skin. In rare cases swollen joints are also a symptom.
How Psoriasis Spreads
Researchers feel that psoriasis is an immune system disorder but also think that genetics and the environment contribute to flare-ups. There are several triggers that can make psoriasis worse. Stress is a culprit for worsening psoriasis as it is for many diseases and conditions. Smoking cigarettes and drinking too much alcohol can also bring about more pronounced symptoms. For some people, cold weather makes the condition worse. Sunburn can also trigger the disease. Even smaller skin injuries like a cut, bruise, scrape or insect bite can cause psoriasis to spread. Viral and bacterial infections can cause psoriasis. Certain medications can also worsen psoriasis. Drugs for hypertension (high blood pressures), bipolar disorder (manic-depression) and malaria are also known triggers.
Treatment of Psoriasis
While there is no cure for psoriasis, doctors offer a variety of treatments to deal with the symptoms. The first treatments offered are topical creams such as corticosteroids, synthetic Vitamin D or Vitamin A derivatives (retinoid). Moisturizers and coal tar are also recommended. Light therapy using sunlight, ultraviolet light or lasers is another course of treatment. Medication is prescribed for the most severe forms of psoriasis, with delivery methods ranging from pills to intravenous injections.