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Understanding Psoriasis: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Psoriasis, an autoimmune ailment, is a chronic skin condition. It’s characterized by the rapid buildup of skin cells, leading to the development of thick, red, elevated patches covered with silvery scales. The patches frequently grow into silvery scales on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back.

What are the Causes and Triggers of Psoriasis?

The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, but it is believed to result from an overactive immune system. It involves rapid skin cell growth and shedding. This accelerated cell multiplication leads to skin shedding every few days. Trigger factors that may contribute to the development include:

·      Injury to the skin

·      Sunburn

·      certain medications

·      Infections

·      Stress

·      Alcohol

·      Tobacco

·      Cold or dry weather

Psoriasis is hereditary but not contagious. It tends to recur and can vary in severity.

What are the Symptoms of Psoriasis?

The following are the most prevalent psoriasis symptoms. Psoriasis appears in a variety of shapes and severity levels. Symptoms could include:

Red, raised patches of skin: Psoriasis typically presents as red, inflamed patches of skin, covered with silver or white scales. These patches can appear anywhere on the body, including the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back.

Itching and discomfort:  The affected areas may feel itchy, tender, or even painful, causing discomfort and irritation.

Nail changes: 

Psoriasis can also affect the nails, causing pitting, thickening, discoloration, and crumbling.

What are the Treatment Options for Psoriasis?

There is no cure for psoriasis. However, there are several treatment approaches to help manage symptoms. These treatment approaches also help improve the quality of life for those with the condition. These include:

1.  Topical Treatments

·      Corticosteroids: It’s available in different strengths and forms. They can come as creams, ointments, or lotions, and can effectively reduce redness and itching.

·      Vitamin D analogs: Topical creams containing vitamin D derivatives can help regulate skin cell growth and reduce inflammation.

·      Retinoids: Derived from vitamin A, retinoids can slow down skin cell growth and alleviate symptoms.

2.  Phototherapy:

·      Ultraviolet (UV) light therapy: Controlled exposure to UVB or UVA light can help suppress the immune system. It can also slow down skin cell production. 

·      Excimer laser: This targeted laser therapy delivers a focused beam of UVB light to affected areas, offering quick relief.

3.  Systemic Medications:

·      Oral or injectable medications: For moderate to severe cases, systemic medications such as methotrexate, cyclosporine, or biologics may be prescribed to suppress the immune response and reduce inflammation.

4.  Lifestyle and Self-care:

·      Moisturizers: Regularly applying moisturizers can help alleviate dryness and reduce scaling.

·      Avoiding triggers: Identifying and avoiding triggers that worsen symptoms can help manage flare-ups.

·      Stress management: Engaging in stress-reducing activities can help minimize the impact of stress on psoriasis symptoms. Activities include exercise, meditation, or hobbies 

·      Healthy lifestyle habits: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle habit can reduce psoriasis symptoms. This includes:

o   a balanced diet

o   exercising regularly

o   getting enough sleep

o   avoiding smoking

o   avoiding excessive alcohol consumption 

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