August is Psoriasis Action Month
An estimated 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), making it the most common autoimmune disease in the country.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the body. There may be visible signs of the inflammation such as raised plaques (plaques may look different for different skin types) and scales on the skin. The most common form of the disease, plaque psoriasis, appears as raised, red patches covered with an accumulation of white dead skin cells. Psoriasis is not contagious.
Psoriasis occurs due to the overactive immune system that speeds up skin cell growth. Normal skin cells completely grow and shed 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. Some people report that psoriasis plaques itch, burn and sting. Plaques and scales may appear on any part of the body, although they are commonly found on the elbows, knees, and scalp.
Inflammation caused by psoriasis can impact other organs and tissues in the body. People with psoriasis may also experience other health conditions. One in three people with psoriasis may also develop psoriatic arthritis.
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.
Why Do People Get Psoriasis?
Possible Psoriasis Causes and Triggers
Stress is one of the most common psoriasis triggers. At the same time, a psoriasis flare can cause stress. This may seem like an endless loop. However, relaxation techniques and stress management may help prevent stress from impacting psoriasis.
Other Possible Triggers
Although it is less common, some people with psoriasis suspect that allergies, certain foods, alcohol or environmental factors trigger their psoriasis. A great way to learn about your unique set of triggers is to track them over time.
What Can A Dermatologist Do?
Psoriasis is often a lifelong condition. Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis treatments aren’t one-size-fits-all, and that’s a good thing. It means that you can work with your dermatologist to find the right psoriasis treatment — or combination of psoriasis treatments — for you that reduces or eliminates your symptoms.
To help their patients live well with psoriasis, dermatologists recommend the following:
- Use psoriasis friendly skin care
- Find and avoid your psoriasis triggers
- Treat the psoriasis as needed
- Tell your dermatologist about symptoms, even if they seem unrelated
Within, you’ll find dermatologists’ insight that can help you diminish psoriasis, reduce flare-ups, and feel better.
Psoriasis Can Affect More Than Your Skin
Studies show that psoriasis increases the risk of developing other medical conditions. Be sure to tell your dermatologist if you have any of these signs or symptoms.