Psoriasis, affecting more than 100 million people worldwide, is a common skin disease associated with painful, itchy, stinging lesions. While the physical effects can be severe, so too can be the impact on mental and emotional well being.
Causes of Psoriasis
The causes of Psoriasis are not fully understood. It can be triggered by a number of internal and external factors, such as stress, infections, sunburn, certain medications, or mild trauma. Research focused on the possibility that psoriasis could be an autoimmune disease has proven inconclusive. Major risk factors include:
- Family History
- Tobacco use
- Physical and Emotional Stress
- HIV infection
- Recurrent Strep throat infection in Kids
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Lesions can form anywhere on the skin and nails. The severity of disease can vary person to person. Symptoms can wax and wane with intermittent flare ups and remissions. Symptoms include:
- Redness of skin along with silvery scales.
- Swelling of joints
- Thick Nails
- Itching or burning skin
Often, the greater the visibility of the skin lesions, the greater the social stigma (or perception thereof). This can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, depression, and suicidal ideation. Psoriasis’ overall impact on society, from the school to the workplace, from the gym to the bedroom, is far greater than the sum of its parts. May be accompanied by:
- Social Isolation
- Emotional Issues
- Depression, including suicidal ideation
Diagnosis of Psoriasis
A diagnosis of psoriasis is usually preceded by a skin biopsy or scraping to rule out any other possible maladies. Otherwise, the presence of characteristic skin lesions is typically sufficient to confirm a diagnosis.
Complications of Psoriasis
Besides affecting the skin, Psoriasis can involve other organs of the body like joints, heart, colon leading to several other health problems. Psoriasis can also lead to several mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
- Psoriatic arthritis: Severe joint damage can occur resulting in disability.
- Cardiac disease: There is increased risk of high Blood pressure, High cholesterol, heart attack due to disease or the drugs used to treat psoriasis
- Eye Problems like conjunctivitis and uveitis
- Medical problems: Diabetes Mellitus, Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s disease
Treatment of Psoriasis
Treatment is focused on easing symptoms, typically lasting the lifetime of the patient, as there is no cure for psoriasis. A comprehensive treatment program not only tends to the physical manifestation (skin lesion), but it also screens for and addresses associated physical disorders and mental health issues.
Skin Lesions – treatments progress from mild to severe cases, but a combination of therapies is common
- Topical therapies - ointments, lotions, etc.
- Phototherapy – UV light
- Systemic Therapies – medications and biologic agents such as Methotrexate, etc.
Treatment of associated Physical Disorders
Treatment of mental Health Issues
- Social Isolation
- Suicidal Ideation
Be sure to check out another article on skin diseases that we wrote by clicking here!
Patient Education regarding wellness and risk factors
Prognosis of Psoriasis
Left untreated, symptoms can worsen and patients are at an increased risk of developing psoriatic arthritis. Most patients receiving proper treatment experience increased quality of life.