Saturday, March 26, 2011

What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that affects about 2% of the general population. Although psoriasis can looks bit disconcerting and can be damaging on confidence and self esteem, it is not considered contagious and if you don't have it you won't get it just because you know someone that has it. The psoriasis symptoms affect each person differently. While one person may experience small areas of patchy skin, others will have patches all over the body. Learning everything about this chronic skin condition is the first step to treating and preventing psoriasis.

There are various psoriasis treatments that your doctor may suggest but it is important to note that there are various natural psoriasis treatments that work just as well. In addition, there are many psoriasis home treatment methods and home remedies for psoriasis that that treat and control psoriasis flare-ups.

What is psoriasis? Psoriasis is from the Greek word "itch." Although the specific psoriasis causes have not been identified to date, an important risk factor for the development of psoriasis relates to genes.

In order to fully answer the question "What is psoriasis?" it is important to know how skin behaves since psoriasis is related to abnormal skin cell production. Typical skin has two layers - the dermis(inner layer) and epidermis(outer layer). Newer skin cells develop from the inner layer and gradually become the outer layer as the top layer dries and dies off and are discarded. This process takes approximately 28 to 30 days.

This process is not usually noticeable in healthy skin as we lose skin cells any myriad of ways whether it is when showering, towel drying, etc.

To answer the question "What is psoriasis," when someone suffers from psoriasis, this skin regeneration process takes place at an abnormally fast pace which is usually 3-4 days and not the usual 28 to 30 day period. With psoriasis, new skin cells move quickly from the inner to the top layer before the top layer has been given a chance to dry off and die. This causes a buildup of dead skin cells on the top of the skin.

The commonly affected areas are the elbows, scalp, knuckles, knees, although these affected skin patches may be found anywhere on the body. These skin patches can be quite unsightly and be evidenced by dry, silvery gray scales. They can also have a red or pinkish red appearance to signify the rich blood supply that is supporting this overproduction of new skin cells.

Psoriasis can vary in severity from mild cases to severe cases which are evidenced by the destruction of the protective functions of the skin causing the skin to lose nutrients and moisture, etc.

It is important to remember when seeking to answer the question "what is psoriasis" to note that this chronic skin condition is not contagious. While research is ongoing as to why the auto immune system malfunctions leading to this abnormal skin regeneration, one of the factors that will increase your risk of developing this condition is if there is a family history of this disease.

Although there is increased risk of developing this skin condition as a result of hereditary factors, it is not as clear cut as that. You may develop this condition if both your parents have this condition or you may not.

Psoriasis symptoms affect each person differently. One person may only have small patches of this scaly skin on a few areas of the skin while another has large areas of skin affected by psoriasis. There are many types of psoriasis but the most common type is known as plaque psoriasis. For more discussion on the various types of psoriasis, see below.

Psoriasis Symptoms

Psoriasis symptoms produced for most sufferers may not result in general health problems. In only a few cases of psoriasis do the psoriasis symptoms include reddening of the skin that becomes very painful, chills, the shedding from large areas of skin infected by this condition, the skin around the joints cracking, and other severe symptoms of psoriasis and require intense therapy or hospitalization.

Although a doctor is the best person to tell you whether you suffer from this painful long term chronic skin condition, here are some common psoriasis symptoms to watch out for.

Psoriasis Symptoms

Psoriasis is usually characterized by raised patches of skin from the abnormal skin regeneration. These raised patches will usually be covered by silvery scales that may be oval in shape. These scales are commonly referred to as plaques.

These plaques are common to areas of the body such as the elbows, knees, scalp, trunk of the body, etc. While these are the most common areas, various psoriasis symptoms may show up in any area of the body such as the genitals, underarms, buttocks, etc. Psoriasis affects sufferers differently.

If the affected area is moist and warm, the patches of skin produced are not as red or as scaly, e.g. the underarms. The patches in these moist areas are usually mistaken for other skin infections because they are usually flat patches of skin that are only slightly red.

As mentioned previously, psoriasis symptoms vary from one individual. One sufferer can experience only small bumps or the patches of raised skin can cover a large area of the body. The affected areas can allow easily wiping off the flaky skin or can be covered in red patches that need to be treated with more care. These patches can also bleed, etc.

Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is usually one of the most unsightly affected areas. Scalp psoriasis can look like a very severe case of dandruff. The psoriasis symptoms related to scalp psoriasis include the shedding of large scales that look silvery white that appear to be stuck in the hair or that fall onto the shoulders.

Fingernail Psoriasis

Psoriasis symptoms related to fingernails may result in white spots that are small on or around the nail or can produce large yellowish/brown areas on the nail bed. This can happen in or around the fingernails. The fingernails can become frayed, pitted, discolored, frayed and in some cases the fingernails may fall off.

Most of the patches of skin produced by psoriasis may burn, itch or sting.

Psoriasis Free For Life

Types of Psoriasis

Knowing the type of psoriasis you have is the first step to combating and keeping this skin condition under control. All types of psoriasis affect the skin. They may affect it differently from one type to another but there is always some form of skin reaction.

a. Plaque Psoriasis

Plaque psoriasis is found in about 90% of psoriasis cases and is the most common type of psoriasis. While plaque psoriasis may vary from one person to another, it is usually evidenced by thick patches skin that is flaky and is usually itchy or inflamed. These patches found in plaque psoriasis may be circular in shape or oval.

b. Guttate Psoriasis

Guttate psoriasis usually affects young adults or children. A flare-up of guttate psoriasis usually results from a bacterial infection. A common bacterial infection that may lead to guttate psoriasis is strep throat. Guttate psoriasis features red or pinkish bumps on the skin that may be tiny and may be misdiagnosed as simply a rash.

c. Pustular Psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis is less common than other types of psoriasis. Pustular psoriasis features bumps on the skin that are filled with pus.

d. Inverse Psoriasis

This type of psoriasis produces patches that are flat, smooth and red. These patches are usually not covered by any scales are usually common to areas of folded skin such as the buttocks and breast areas.

e. Erythrodermic Psoriasis

This type of psoriasis can be very serious although the good news is that it is the least common type of psoriasis. This type of psoriasis can strain the heart when an area of the skin experiences increased inflammation which itches and burns in addition to becoming red and includes a rash that peels. The increased blood flow related to this type is what strains the heart.

f. Psoriatic Arthritis

There seems to be some relationship between psoriasis and arthritis. This type of psoriasis simply means that the sufferer suffers from both psoriasis and arthritis.

g. Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is also known as seborrheic psoriasis and as mentioned previously, it may look like a severe case of dandruff and can be quite unsightly. Scalp psoriasis produces plaque areas that are very badly or skin that is scaly and dry.

Psoriasis Triggers

Psoriasis triggers for the flare-ups are varied and affect each psoriasis sufferer differently. Once you are aware of what triggers your psoriasis, you will become better able to manage your psoriasis.

1. Stress is also another factor that weakens the immune system leading to a breakout of psoriasis. Learning to manage stress is one of the ways that you can control psoriasis flare-ups. Managing stress whether emotional, anxiety related, etc, is the first step to improving your general well being.

2. Cuts and other injuries on the skin usually lead to psoriasis flare-ups. Any scratch or cut on the skin may lead to infection which can then trigger psoriasis. Treating a cut, abrasion or other skin injury immediately is one way to curb the spread of infection.

3. Psoriasis triggers include suffering from an illness. One of the most common illnesses that leads to a psoriasis breakout is strep throat. Learning to manage your illnesses quickly and improving your general health to avoid illnesses in one of the best ways to combat psoriasis and improve your general health.

4. Some medications including psoriasis medications may aggravate psoriasis and trigger psoriasis in some cases. Do discuss the various medications that you are taking and their impact on psoriasis with your doctor before you start taking the medications.

The above psoriasis triggers are only a few factors that may lead to psoriasis flare-ups. Learn how to properly manage the triggers to ward off psoriasis.

Psoriasis Home Treatments Straight From the Kitchen

Psoriasis home treatment methods are varied and a trial and error method will help you find the best psoriasis home treatment methods that will work for you. When trying to find psoriasis treatments that work, it may be frustrating but as long as you do not give up, you will find a method that will work for you and help keep psoriasis at bay.

Psoriasis home treatments work just as well if not better than some medical intervention methods in addition to being cost effective. Psoriasis medications and doctor's visits can become quite expensive as you see a psoriasis cure.

Psoriasis home treatments are not only cheap but are easy and use ingredients commonly found in your kitchen or a local health store.

1. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider is great at easing burn and calming other skin inflammations. You can use the liquid form on fingernails by dipping them straight in the vinegar.

For other plaques, simply mix one cup of apple cider vinegar with one gallon of water and use a piece of cloth or cotton wool to swap the mixture over the infected plaques.

2. Plastic Wraps

Covering up the plaques or other infected areas with a plastic wrap is a great way to heal psoriasis. Plastic wraps help to keep any medications or moisturizers in place for effective treatment. Keeping the plastic wrap for up to an hour will allow the medication or moisturizer to stay and work longer on the infected area.

3. Oils

If you are battling scalp psoriasis, olive oil may help to relive it. Simply warm a little olive oil and gently massage it onto the scalp to loosen the flaky skin to loosen them and follow with a medicated shampoo.

For extra moisturization of the skin, mineral oil added to a bath will help to soothe the skin. Epsom salts added to a bath are also great to heal wounds and cuts.

Calendula oil is great at soothing the itch, burn or sting related to psoriasis. Mix about 2 cups of dried calendula flowers with about 1 teaspoon of vitamin oil and 1 quart extra virgin oil.

Gently warm the extra virgin over a low heat but do not simmer. Gently stir in the calendula flowers and leave this uncovered about 24 hours stirring once in a while. Follow this by straining the mixture. Make sure you get all the oil produced by ensuring that you also press the oil out of the flowers. Add the vitamin E oil to this mixture. Gently rub this mixture onto the itching, burning or stinging patches. Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

4. Baking Soda

Itching can be greatly relieved by using baking soda. Mix 1 ½ cups baking soda with about 3 gallons of water. Use a piece of cloth to dip into this mixture and gently place over the infected area.

There are many other psoriasis home treatment methods that you can find. This will allow you to take a proactive approach to finding a psoriasis cure that you are heavily involved in which will give you some level of control over this condition. If you are persistent and do not give up, you will discover the methods that work for you.