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Psoriasis and everything you need to know

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition (a disease with an unclear cause that is characterized by inflammation caused by dysfunction of the immune system) that causes the rapid buildup of skin cells. This buildup of cells causes scaling on the skin’s surface. This occurs because the overactive immune system speeds up skin cell growth. Normal skin cells completely grow and shed (fall off) in a month. With psoriasis, skin cells do this in only three or four days. Instead of shedding, the skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin.

Inflammation and redness around the scales are fairly common. Typical psoriatic scales are whitish-silver and develop in thick, red patches. Sometimes, these patches will crack and bleed

Scales typically develop on joints, such as elbows, and knees. They may develop anywhere on the body, including the: hands, feet, neck, scalp, and face. Symptoms often start between ages 15 and 25 but can start at any age. Men, women, and children of all skin colors can get psoriasis.

Psoriasis commonly associated with several other conditions, including:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • heart disease
  • psoriatic arthritis
  • anxiety
  • depression
Causes and triggers of psoriasis

Other factors that trigger psoriasis include:

• Stress
• Injury to Skin
• Illness and medication
• Weather
• Allergies, certain foods, alcohol or environmental factors can also trigger psoriasis.

Treatment

Psoriasis has no cure. Treatments aim to reduce inflammation and scales, slow the growth of skin cells, and remove plaques. Psoriasis treatments fall into three categories:
Topical treatments
Creams and ointments applied directly to the skin can be helpful for reducing mild to moderate psoriasis.

Topical psoriasis treatments include:
• topical corticosteroids
• topical retinoids
• anthralin
• vitamin D analogues
• salicylic acid
• moisturizer
People with moderate to severe psoriasis, and those who haven’t responded well to other treatment types, may need to use oral or injected medications. Many of these medications have severe side effects. Doctors usually prescribe them for short periods of time.

Systemic medications

People with moderate to severe psoriasis, and those who haven’t responded well to other treatment types, may need to use oral or injected medications. Many of these medications have severe side effects. Doctors usually prescribe them for short periods of time.
These medications include:
• methotrexate
• cyclosporine (Sandimmune)
• biologics
• retinoids
Light therapy
This psoriasis treatment uses ultraviolet (UV) or natural light. Sunlight kills the overactive white blood cells that are attacking healthy skin cells and causing the rapid cell growth. Both UVA and UVB light may be helpful in reducing symptoms of mild to moderate psoriasis.
Most people with moderate to severe psoriasis will benefit from a combination of treatments. This type of therapy uses more than one of the treatment types to reduce symptoms. Some people may use the same treatment their entire lives. Others may need to change treatments occasionally if their skin stops responding to what they’re using.

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