PSORIASIS: Types,Treatment, Signs and Symptoms

PSORIASIS: Types,Treatment, Signs and SymptomsUnpredictable and irritating, psoriasis is one of the most baffling and persistent of skin disorders.  It’s characterized by skin cells that multiply up to 10 times faster than normal.  As underlying cells reach the skin’s surface and die, their sheer volume causes raised, red plaques covered with white scale.  Psoriasis typically occurs on the knees, elbows, and scalp and can also affect the torso, palms, and soles of the feet.

The symptoms of psoriasis vary depending on the type you have. Some common symptoms for plaque psoriasis — the most common variety of the condition — include:

  • Plaques of red skin, often covered with loose, silver-colored scales; these lesions may be itchy and painful, and they sometimes crack and bleed.  In severe cases, the plaques of irritated skin will grow and merge into one another, covering large areas.
  • Disorders of the fingernails and toenails, including discoloration and pitting of the nails; the nails may also begin to crumble or detach from the nail bed.
  • Plaques of scales or crust on the scalp

Psoriasis can also be associated with psoriatic arthritis, which leads to pain and swelling in the joints.  The National Psoriasis Foundation estimates that between 10% to 30% of people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis.

Types Of Psoriasis:

Other types of psoriasis include:

Pustular psoriasis, characterized by red and scaly skin on the palms of the hands and/or feet with tiny pustules

Guttate psoriasis, which often starts in childhood or young adulthood, is characterized by small, red spots, mainly on the torso and limbs.  Triggers may be respiratory infections, strep throat, tonsillitis, stress, injury to the skin, and use of anti-malarial and beta-PSORIASIS: Types,Treatment, Signs and Symptomsblocker medications.

Inverse psoriasis, characterized by bright-red, shiny lesions that appear in skin folds, such as the armpits, groin area, and under the breasts

Erythrodermic psoriasis, characterized by periodic, fiery redness of the skin and shedding of scales in sheets.  This form of psoriasis, triggered by withdrawal from a systemic psoriasis treatment, severe sunburn, infection, and certain medications, requires immediate medical treatment, because it can lead to severe illness.

People who suffer from psoriasis know that this uncomfortable and at times disfiguring skin disease can be difficult and frustrating to treat.  The condition comes and goes in cycles of remissions and flare-ups over a lifetime.  While there are medications and other therapies that can help to clear up the patches of red, scaly, thickened skin that are the hallmark of psoriasis, there is no cure.

Signs And Symptoms Of Psoriasis:

An individual with plaque psoriasis usually has patches of red, raised, scaly areas on the skin that may itch or burn.  The patches are usually found on the knees, elbows, trunk, or scalp.  Approximately nine out of 10 people with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis.

The flare-ups can last for weeks or months.  The psoriasis goes away for a time and then returns (chronic).

General characteristics of the scaly skin of the most common type of psoriasis are as follows:

  • Plaques:  The plaque areas on the skin are elevated.  The plaque areas vary in size (1 centimeter to several centimeters) and may range from a few to many at any given time on the skin. The shape of the plaque is usually oval but can be irregular in shape. Smaller plaque areas may merge with other areas and form a large affected area.

PSORIASIS: Types,Treatment, Signs and SymptomsPlaques sometimes have an area around them that looks like a halo or ring (Ring of Woronoff).

  • Red color:  The color of the affected skin is very distinctive.  The rich, full red color is salmon colored.  Sometimes the skin can have a blue tint when the psoriasis is on the legs.
  • Scale:  The scales are dry, thin, and silvery white.  The thickness of the scales may vary.  When the scale is removed, the skin underneath looks smooth, red, and glossy.  This shiny skin usually has small areas that bleed (Auspitz sign).
  • Symmetry:  Psoriatic plaques tend to appear on both sides of the body in the same places.  For example, the psoriasis is usually on both knees or both elbows at the same time.

Other general symptoms of psoriasis are as follows:

  • Scalp:  The scalp can have dry, scaly skin or crusted plaque areas.  Sometimes psoriasis of the scalp is confused with seborrheic dermatitis.  In seborrheic psoriasis, the scales are greasy looking, not dry.
  • Psoriasis in children: Plaque psoriasis looks slightly different in children compared to adults. In children, the plaques are not as thick, and the affected skin is less scaly. Psoriasis may often appear in the diaper region in infancy and in flexural areas in children. The disease more commonly affects the face in children as compared to adults.
  • Other areas: Although the most common body areas affected are the arms, leg, back, and scalp, psoriasis can be found on any body part. Psoriasis can be found on the genitals or buttocks, under the breasts, or under the arms. These areas can feel especially itchy or burning.

Treatment Options For Psoriasis:

Treating your psoriasis is critical to good disease management and overall health.  Work with your doctor to find a treatment—or treatments—that reduce or eliminate your symptoms.  What works for one person with psoriasis might not work for another.  So it’s important to know the different treatment options and keep trying until you find the right regimen for you to treat your psoriasis.

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Originally born and raised in Woburn Massachusetts (love my Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins!) I made my trek northward to the beautiful state of Maine back in October 2003 after marrying my college sweetheart. We began a family in 2004 and I am happy to say that we have 4 happy, healthy, beautiful children that bring an amazing amount of joy to our lives! I am also a type 1 diabetic. Diagnosed back in 2006 (out of the blue), at a routine doctors visit. Diabetes has single handed-ly been the biggest obstacle that I have faced in my life. At the time I had no idea of what a roller coaster ride I would be in for, I mean really, what's a couple finger sticks a day and a couple shots of insulin for food...this will be easy, I got this! Well 2 ER visits later, I quickly found out that this was no joke, and if I wanted to see my little ones grow up, this was something that I needed to take seriously! Little by little as we began to digest all of the information that was being thrown at acting insulin, short acting insulin, lancets, test meters, test strips, ketone sticks, carb counting, food groups, glucagon emergency kits, insulin pumps, glucose monitors...OMG, my head was spinning like a top!! After a couple of crazy years, I can happily say that I am well controlled and feel absolutely amazing! Not to be lost in all of this either is the amazing support of my wife. She has been my rock! She has been with me every step of the way, from 2am finger sticks to helping me change out a failed pump in the middle of a crowded restaurant. She truly is an amazing wife and mom and I can't imaging my life without her love and support- love you babe!

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