Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin disorder that is characterized by patches of red, itchy, and irritated skin. Rather than a skin disease, however, psoriasis is actually an autoimmune disease because it stems from an autoimmune reaction.
The cause and cure are unknown, though there are some treatments that help patients manage the disorder.
What is Psoriasis, Exactly?
Psoriasis occurs when certain skin cells grow faster than the normal skin cell. Skin cells are replaced every 3-5 days instead of the usual 28-30 days. As a result, instead of a normal amount of skin cells to heal wounds or rid your body of bacteria, a buildup of skin cells occur. When this happens, dead cells can’t fall off the skin naturally or quickly. Instead, it stays on your skin.
The phenomenon of too many dead skin cells piling up onto the skin results in sometimes large, red, painful and itchy patches.
In the United States, more than 7.5 million Americans are diagnosed and living with psoriasis, making it one of the most common autoimmune diseases in the U.S.
While the disease is not contagious, those who develop it has it for a lifetime, making it difficult to deal with. Because symptoms can fluctuate, it is best to avoid these triggers so that your psoriasis do not worsen or flare up.
- Bad habits: habits such as smoking and/or excessive alcohol use can worsen psoriasis symptoms.
- Stress: When you are stressed your body tend to go into overdrive or become too strained to fight off illnesses. This can lead to psoriasis flare-ups.
- Skin injury and infection: Because the skin cells grow faster than normal in psoriasis, instead of a slow and natural healing, psoriasis can worsen.
- Cold weather: When it is cold, skin tend to become more dry, making it easier for psoriasis to flare up as dry skin can crack.
- Medicines: Some medicines such as those used to treat bipolar disorder or high blood pressure can worsen psoriasis. Make sure to consult your doctor if you have psoriasis before taking any new medicine.
Treatment for Psoriasis
While there is no cure currently for psoriasis, it is still manageable. Eating well and managing stress, as well as avoiding triggers that can worsen your psoriasis, are all some things that can help manage the disease.
Medicines used to treat psoriasis often include creams and light therapy. These creams can contain corticosteroids, anthralin, calcineurin inhibitors, vitamin D, and/or more. They work to help manage the symptoms of psoriasis and to bring it to heal. Controlled amounts of natural sunlight or artificial light in light therapy can provide patients with temporary relief.
Additionally, medicines can be taken to control cell growth and contain the immune system. There are also plenty of medications and treatments in clinic trials so we can find a cure to psoriasis; however, patients interested in participating in these trials should first consult their own doctor.
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