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Health and Fitness News

Suffering with Psoriasis

What to know about this embarrassing, frustrating skin disease.

If you think you’re the only one suffering with psoriasis, think again. Millions of people around the world deal with the same disease each and every day. Like other chronic diseases, psoriasis affects more than just your physical health. When trying to live a normal life with red, itchy scales on your skin, your emotional and social life suffer as well. While psoriasis presents difficult challenges, there are an increasing number of treatments available to improve your quality of life.

Tired of letting psoriasis ruin your day? Keep reading to learn more about the disease and what you can do about it.

Overactive Immune Response

Psoriasis is a sign your immune system isn’t working as it should. One job of the immune system is to trigger inflammation in response to a foreign invader. But sometimes, inflammation happens when it’s not supposed to. In the case of psoriasis, unwanted inflammation affects the skin.

Your skin cells are constantly shedding and being replaced with new skin cells. This process normally takes about a month. But with psoriasis, an overactive immune system causes this process to speed up. Instead of taking a month, new skin cells are formed every three to four days.

The Result

When new cells form so quickly, the old skin cells don’t have time to shed fast enough. This leads to a buildup of cells on the skin. For most people, this looks like red patches on the skin that are covered with silvery scales. The skin becomes dry, cracked, and may bleed. Many people experience itching, burning, and tenderness.

The most common areas of the skin affected by psoriasis include the back, knees, legs, bottom of the feet, elbows, face, palms, and scalp. However, the scales can appear anywhere on the body. This form of psoriasis is known as plaque psoriasis and is the most common type.

Sometimes, psoriasis affects more than just the skin. Nail psoriasis causes discoloration, weakness, and pitting of the nails. With psoriatic arthritis, joints become stiff and painful.

Symptoms of psoriasis often come and go. They may flare for weeks or months at a time and then lessen or completely go away for a time.

Don’t Worry, It’s Not Contagious

Unlike other skin conditions, psoriasis is not contagious. It’s currently unknown why the immune system overreacts and affects the skin. But the problem seems to be caused by both genetic and environmental factors.

You’re more likely to develop psoriasis if you have other family members with the condition. People who smoke or are under high amounts of stress are also at an increased risk. Those with psoriasis often experience flare-ups due to other infections, cold or dry weather, stress, skin injuries, medications, alcohol use, or smoking.

See Your Doctor

Symptoms of psoriasis shouldn’t be ignored.. Talk with your doctor about what treatments are available to reduce the buildup of skin cells and improve your quality of life. The most common forms of treatment include ointments and creams, light therapy, and medication that’s injected or taken orally.

What type of treatment you receive depends on the type of psoriasis you have and how severe it is. In most cases, you’ll start with the mildest treatments. If these fail, you’ll progress to stronger forms of treatment. Unfortunately, it may take some experimentation of various drugs or combinations of treatments to find what works best for you. Be patient though. Eventually, you’ll land on an effective treatment that will help you live a full, enjoyable life.