Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes an itchy, scaly rash on the elbows, knees, scalp, and trunk Psoriasis is a long-term (chronic) disease with no cure. It can be painful, disrupt sleep, and make it difficult to concentrate.
Psoriasis is characterised by skin cells that multiply up to tenfold faster than normal. When these cells reach the surface and die, raised, red plaques covered in white scales form. The condition tends to flare up for a few weeks or months before subsiding for a while. Infections, cuts or burns, and certain medications are common triggers in people with a genetic predisposition to psoriasis.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Although psoriatic plaques can be limited to a few small areas, the condition can affect large areas of skin throughout the body. The symptoms of psoriasis differ depending on the type of psoriasis you have. The following are common psoriasis symptoms:
- Red patches of skin
- Small scaling spots
- Dry, cracked skin
- Itching, burning, or soreness
- Itchy plaques
Causes of Psoriasis
Psoriasis has no known cause, but several risk factors have been identified. As psoriasis is often seen in family members, there appears to be a genetic predisposition to inheriting the illness. Environmental factors, in conjunction with the immune system, may play a role. Some factors that trigger psoriasis include:
- Skin Injury
Types of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is classified into several types. The majority of psoriasis cases are mild to moderate. Some types of psoriasis, on the other hand, can be quite severe.
Types of the condition include:
- Plaque psoriasis
- Guttate psoriasis
- Inverse psoriasis
- Erythrodermic psoriasis
- Nail psoriasis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Pustular psoriasis
1. Plaque Psoriasis
Plaque psoriasis affects approximately 80–90% of people with psoriasis. This generally appears as raised, inflamed, red lesions covered by silvery-white scales on light skin. It appears as purple or dark brown patches with grey scales on dark skin.
These patches are frequently seen on the:
- lower back
2. Guttate Psoriasis
Guttate psoriasis affects children and adolescents more than adults. It accounts for less than 30% of all psoriasis cases. It appears on the skin as small, individual spots. The lesions in plaque psoriasis are usually not as thick or crusty.
Guttate psoriasis can be caused by a variety of conditions, including:
- upper respiratory infections
- streptococcal infections
- injury to the skin
- certain medications, such as lithium, antimalarials, and beta-blockers.
Guttate psoriasis may go away on its own and never return. It may, however, clear up and reappear later as plaque psoriasis patches.
3. Inverse Psoriasis
Inverse psoriasis (also known as “intertriginous psoriasis”) affects approximately 20% to 30% of people with psoriasis. It causes smooth, inflamed patches of skin that worsen with friction and sweating. Fungal infections can cause this type of psoriasis. It usually affects:
- the armpits
- the groin
- the areas under the breasts
- skin folds around the genitals and buttocks
4. Erythrodermic Psoriasis
This is the least common type, but it is the most serious. It affects most of your body, resulting in widespread, fiery skin that appears to be burned.
- Other signs and symptoms include:
- Severe itching, burning or peeling
- Changes in body temperature
- A faster heart rate
People with erythrodermic psoriasis are vulnerable to infection. They may also develop other serious issues, such as heart failure or pneumonia.
5. Nail psoriasis
Although not an official type of psoriasis, nail psoriasis is a symptom of the disease. The condition is frequently confused with fungal infections and other nail infections.
- Nail psoriasis can result in:
- nail pitting
- loosening or crumbling of the nail
- coloured spots or patches underneath the nail,
- thickened skin underneath the nail
The nail may even crumble and fall off at times. Although there is no cure for psoriatic nails, some treatments may improve their health and appearance.
6. Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic disease characterised by skin and joint inflammation. Joint inflammation affects approximately 15% to 25% of psoriasis patients. Psoriatic arthritis is a systemic rheumatic disease that can cause inflammation not only of the skin but also of the eyes, heart, kidneys, and lungs. The cause of psoriatic arthritis is currently unknown, but it is likely caused by a combination of genetic, immune, and environmental factors.
- Symptoms include:
- Joint pain and stiffness that is worse in the morning and after rest.
- Sausage-like swelling of the toes and fingers
- Warm joints that may be discoloured.
7. Pustular Psoriasis
Pustular psoriasis is characterised by well-defined white pustules on the skin. These are filled with non-infectious pus. The skin around the bumps is reddish, and large areas of the skin may also redden. It can progress from skin redness to pustules and scaling.
- Fast heart rate
- Muscle weakness
There are various types of psoriasis, each with its own set of symptoms. Although there is no cure for psoriasis, recent advances in psoriasis treatment mean that people can reduce the number and severity of flares they experience.
Your treatment will be determined by the type of psoriasis you have and its severity. In general, milder cases with smaller psoriasis patches can often be treated topically. More serious cases with larger patches may necessitate systemic treatment.