Treatment of psoriasis

Author: Orsolya Tóth MD

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a lifelong (chronic) disease that affects 2-3% of the population, affecting not only the skin, but the joints, nails and rarely the mucous membrane, as well.

What causes psoriasis?                                                    

Psoriasis is a genetically determined, hereditary disease, several genes are responsible in its development. Due to the abnormal functioning of T-lymphocytes, the proliferation of the epithelial cells increases, which causes an increase of the keratosis of the skin, that manifests itself in inflamed, scaly peeling plaques.
Apart from the hereditary disposition, it can be triggered by other outside factors, such as inflammation nodules - a bad tooth, a sinus infection, or even an inflamed tonsil. But a trigger can also be an incorrect lifestyle (smoking, stress).

Who is affected by psoriasis?

 Psoriasis can practically develop at any age starting from young children up to elderly people, although experience shows that it most commonly manifests between the age of 15-25, or after menopause. It is equally common in men and women.

Is psoriasis contagious?

Contrary to popular belief, psoriasis is not contagious, therefore you cannot "catch it" or "infect" somebody by touch, using the same bathroom, nor by being with them intimately.

What are the symptoms of psoriasis? 

The symptoms most commonly affect the skin of the head under the hair, symmetrically the elbows and knees, the area of the hips or the sacrum, while the face is usually spared. Psoriasis plaques can develop in the earflaps and on the nails. In rare cases, the palms and foot soles are also affected, but in serious cases the whole body might become inflamed.
The three major identifiers of the plaques are scaling, thickening of the skin, and inflamed (red) skin.
Psoriasis has many forms, its most common types, which are categorized according to the location and severity of the symptoms, are plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular, erythrodermic, and nail psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis, which is the type that has symptoms in the joints in particular.

How is psoriasis diagnosed?

The most characteristic symptom of untreated psoriasis is wax-white scale formation on the skin. If this, and some of the other previously mentioned symptoms are present, it is recommended to see a specialist, who can identify the problem without elaborate examinations, and can prescribe an individual therapy for the patient.

Is psoriasis curable?

Due to genetic disposition being a factor, it is understandable that we do not know any medication or treatment method that would make permanent healing achievable, although with treatment, a symptom-free condition is maintainable for a long time. Apart from the treatment of the disease, giving advice and psychological help is also very important, because population casts out people suffering from psoriasis.

What are the treatment options in the case of psoriasis?

Based on the current state of skin symptoms, treatment might be:
  • the use of local anti-inflammation and peeling medication
  • the healing effect of sunlight - results can be achieved in light cabins, too
  • the use of oral medications that affect the cells of the immune system
  • the use of biological therapy, if traditional methods of treatment turn out to be ineffective
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