What Is Psoriasis: Things You Need to Know

psoriasis

Story at-a-glance -

  • Psoriasis is more than just a dry and scaly disorder of the skin — it’s a devastating chronic and autoimmune inflammatory disease
  • A huge number (73 percent) of patients with severe psoriasis and around half of respondents (48 percent) with moderate psoriasis had low self-confidence that seriously affected their daily lives

Psoriasis is more than just a dry and scaly disorder of the skin — it’s a devastating chronic and autoimmune inflammatory disease.

Psoriasis occurs because of a fast turnover of skin cells that grow deep within the body’s largest organ and slowly rise to the surface. Normally, the said turnover process lasts for one month or around 21 to 28 days. Among psoriasis patients, however, the skin turnover happens in two to six days because the cells rise too fast and pile up on the surface as a result.1

How Do You Know if You Have Psoriasis?

A major sign that you have psoriasis, as highlighted by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, is the appearance of itchy and sore patches of thick and red skin alongside “silvery scales.” These patches can appear anywhere in the body, but are commonly seen on the:

Legs

Scalp

Lower back

Face

Palms

Soles of the feet

Elbows

Knees

Your fingernails, toenails, soft tissues, genitals and inside of the mouth can also be the site/s of psoriasis symptoms, so check these areas constantly.2 If the rashes cover only less than 10 percent of your body, however, you may only have mild psoriasis.3

These People Have a Higher Risk for Psoriasis

Adults are more prone to have psoriasis,4 although the condition could also occur in people between 15 and 35 years of age.5 There are, however, certain risk factors that can predispose you to psoriasis, no matter what age you are, such as:6,7,8

Genetics

Having a family history of the condition

A viral or bacterial infection

Smoking

Skin injuries caused by either a skin infection, inflammation or excess scratching

Cold and dry weather

Obesity9

Alcoholism

Stressful event/s

Certain medications including those recommended for bipolar disorder, high blood pressure levels, malaria and iodides10

If these risk factors affect you or someone you know, it’s vital to practice preventive techniques and seek medical help immediately to stop the disease from affecting the body.

How Psoriasis Affects Your Health and Emotions

Immediate detection and treatment of psoriasis is important, as the condition can lead to these complications:11

Psoriatic arthritis

Eye conditions such as conjunctivitis, blepharitis and uveitis

Type 2 diabetes

High blood pressure levels

Metabolic syndrome

Autoimmune diseases like celiac disease, sclerosis or Crohn’s disease

Kidney disease

Parkinson’s disease

Cardiovascular disease

Obesity

Aside from these health impacts, psoriasis could take a toll on your emotions, as patients may experience low self-esteem, depression, social isolation and work problems.12,13

A December 2003 survey was conducted by NFO, a market research firm, to learn about psoriasis’ effects on patients’ self-esteem, work/school, relationships and social interactions. A total of 502 patients with moderate to severe psoriasis participated, and the results showed that 73 percent of patients with severe psoriasis and around 48 percent with moderate psoriasis experienced low levels of self-esteem that affected their daily lives.

A lack of understanding among the general public played a major role in these feelings of low self-esteem; respondents cited the following reasons why they thought the general public did not understand psoriasis patients:

  • Public is ignorant about psoriasis (67 percent)
  • Public is afraid that the disease may be contagious (64 percent)
  • Public is disgusted by the condition (56 percent)

Of the respondents, 45 percent felt that they can be the subject of ridicule by ignorant people. Only around 8 percent of patients thought that the public understood the gravity of this disease.

A very important takeaway from a condition like psoriasis was stated by Dr. Alan Menter, a member of the Beyond Psoriasis Advisory Board and the Chief of the Division of Dermatology at Baylor University Medical Center:14

"Comprehensive care of psoriasis goes beyond treating the symptoms. This survey validates the need for an understanding about how psoriasis can impact a patient's social life and emotional and physical well-being."

Psoriasis is not just a disease that affects a patient on the outside, as the ramifications and potential impacts go beyond skin deep. This is why it’s important to have the disease checked as early as possible to prevent psoriasis from further affecting you or someone you know.

MORE ABOUT PSORIASIS

Psoriasis: Introduction

What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis In Children

Psoriasis Versus Eczema

Psoriatic Arthritis

Is Psoriasis Contagious?

Psoriasis Causes

Psoriasis Types

Psoriasis Symptoms

Psoriasis Treatment

Psoriasis Prevention

Psoriasis Diet

Celebrities With Psoriasis

Psoriasis FAQ

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