Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease characterized by symptoms such as red and dry spots which may cause itching, slight burning and pain.
Although the disease is relatively common, the cause of psoriasis is not yet known. It may however be caused by changes in the person’s own immune system. For this reason, it is common for the psoriasis spots to appear or become more intense during situations that directly affect immunity such as during periods of intense stress or presence of autoimmune diseases.
Most cases of psoriasis are characterized by the presence of red and dry spots on the skin depending on the type of symptoms and the affected site. psoriasis can therefore be divided into several subtypes:
1. Vulgar psoriasis
Psoriasis Vulgaris also called plaque psoriasis. It is the most common form of the disease and is characterized by the presence of red plaques, with white or silver scales, which can be from a few millimetres to several centimetres in size.
This type of psoriasis usually appears in the arms, legs, scalp and lumbar region, but can also end up affecting the nails. Presence of other symptoms such as itching or burning in the affected sites may vary from one person to the other.
2. Guttate psoriasis
Guttate Psoriasis, also known as psoriasis in drops, is more common in children, adolescents and young adults. It is manifested by the presence of drop-shaped spots on the skin.
The spots of guttate psoriasis are smaller than 1 cm and tend to appear on the trunk, armpits and groins, usually after a streptococcus infection of the airways.
3. Pustules psoriasis
Pustules psoriasis begins when small blisters appear on the skin with pus, along with psoriasis spots. These blisters can appear in only one specific region of the skin or may end up spreading throughout the body. The person may also have a fever of 39º to 40º for several days.
4. Inverted psoriasis
Inverted psoriasis is another type of psoriasis that is identified when psoriasis spots arise only in moist places such as armpits, groins, inframammary region, navel or scalp. These spots do not usually show flaking because they appear in humid places.
5. Nail psoriasis
Popularly known as nail psoriasis, this type appears when the disease mainly affects the nail region, causing ripples in the nails, spots and weakened nails.
Often, nail psoriasis appears before psoriasis manifests in the skin, and may be the only symptom for upto several years.
The first sign of psoriasis is usually the appearance of red spots on the skin, which may disappear after some time without requiring any treatment, but may re-emerge, especially during periods of increased stress.
When one suspects that they have psoriasis, they should consult a dermatologist, because this is the most recommended professional to make a diagnosis. It is usually made by observing symptoms on the skin and evaluating the person’s family health history.
To arrive at the correct diagnosis, the doctor may also have to perform some tests to rule out other skin problems with similar symptoms, such as eczema, mycosis, lichen planus, or lupus erythesus.
Psoriasis spots are most common in places such as:
- Arms, elbows and hands
- Legs and knees
- Belly and navel
- Scalp, near the nape and forehead
- Scouns and back bottoms
However, psoriasis can arise anywhere on the body, ranging from person to person. Thus, it is important that whenever there is change in the skin, a consultation is made with the dermatologist, to identify the problem and start the most appropriate treatment.
The specific causes of psoriasis are not yet known, however, it is known that the disease is caused by an unpsychic of the person’s own immune system. This means that psoriasis is not caused by viruses, fungi or bacteria and hence it is also not contagious.
Some factors that may increase the chances of developing psoriasis include:
- Blows and other skin trauma
- Infections by viruses or bacteria
- Habits such as smoking or alcoholism
- Use of medicines, especially antimalarials, lithium or beta-blockers
Psoriasis also has a very strong genetic relationship, as more than 50% of affected people have other cases of psoriasis in the family.
There is no specific treatment capable of eliminating psoriasis and, for this reason, it is considered that it has no cure. However, there are several types of treatment that can relieve symptoms and improve a person’s quality of life.
The main types of treatment used are:
- Remedies and ointments: Are the main way to control symptoms and act directly on the immune system or on the inflammatory process of psoriasis. The most used type are corticosteroid ointments, which reduce redness and itching of stains.
- Phototherapy: Consists of the application of UVB rays on the skin and is usually used in conjunction with remedies and ointments to increase the anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative effect.
- Adequate diet: Feeding is another good way to complement the treatment of psoriasis, because it allows one to avoid the consumption of substances that may contribute to inflammation of the skin.
In addition, there are also some home remedies for psoriasis that can be used, with the doctor’s knowledge, to control symptoms without having side effects to treatment. A good example is watercress, which helps eliminate substances from the body that have the potential of causing psoriasis crises or aggravate symptoms.
In recent years, there has also been increased interest in studying some biological agents, such as adalimumab or etanercept, to attenuate the symptoms of psoriasis. This type of medication is a new class of treatment consisting of the use of proteins or antibodies that are capable of regulating the immune system.