Psoriasis is much more than a skin condition it is a complex chronic, noncommunicable, painful, disfiguring and disabling autoimmune disease for which there is no cure and has a significant impact on your quality of life.
Being diagnosed with psoriasis can be overwhelming and confusing. Psoriasis is a complex autoimmune condition and the medical information you receive may be confusing and difficult to understand. There are many decisions that you may be required to make including your treatments options as well as dealing with how you will live with the disease practically and emotionally. It is important to remember that you are not alone and that you do not need to make journey by yourself.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a lifelong chronic condition that is currently not curable, although the severity of the disease can improve or worsen overtime and can be controlled with various treatment.
Psoriasis changes the life cycle of the skin cells causing cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin over couple of days instead of usual 21 – 28 days on somebody not impacted by psoriasis. This build-up of skin cells over a couple of days results in thick silvery scales and dry, itchy, red patches (plaques) that are often painful.
Psoriasis can occur on any part of the body, including the scalp, hands, feet, finger or toes nails, and genitals.
It is estimated that between 2.3% and 6.6% of Australians are living with some form of Psoriasis.
It can develop in both men and women and can occur at any point in a persons life span.
The cause of Psoriasis is not yet fully known or understood. It is considered to develop due to immune, genetic and environmental/behavioural factors.
Recent research has indicated that the rapid growth of skin cells is a result an overactive immune system. This causes immune cells to constantly act as though they are fighting an infection or healing a wound causing the skin cells to grow every couple of days rather than the usually 21-28 day cycle.
Although genetics are known to be a contributing factor, not everyone with a family history of Psoriasis will develop Psoriasis. This means that environmental triggers, such as stress, infections, smoking or alcohol, may play a role in the initial development of the disease.
Symptoms of Psoriasis are different for each person and can range from mild to severe.
The most common symptoms are:
- Areas of the skin that are dry or red, that have silvery-white scales
- Rashes on the scalp, genitals, or in the skin folds
- Itching and skin pain
- Joint pain, swelling, or stiffness
- Nail abnormalities, such as pitted, discolored or crumbly nails
Psoriasis is not contagious and cannot be passed from one person to another, or through touching the psoriatic skin.
There is currently no cure for Psoriasis, although there are many treatment options available that can reduce the inflammation and symptoms of the disease.
Although psoriasis is not curable, there are many treatments available that can reduce the symptoms and appearance of the disease.
Several factors will influence which treatment is best for each individual patient. The treating medical specialist should consider, the severity of the disease, the cost and convenience of the treatment, and a person’s response to the treatment. There may be times when a combination of treatments may be recommended.
Finding the right treatment may be a process of trial and error.
Psoriasis is an extremely complex autoimmune disease with many variations making it nearly impossible to determine how it will impact each person affected by the disease.