Living With Psoriasis

Stress can cause the immune system to send out chemicals that cause inflammation. In people with psoriasis, the immune system over-responds, sending out too much of the chemicals. The person with psoriasis needs to minimize physical and mental stress.

The itch of psoriasis can have a bigger impact on quality of life than visible lesions. It is a unique itch, often described as a burning, biting sensation. Some describe it as the feeling of being bitten by fire ants. At-home remedies for the itch include keeping skin moisturized. It reduces inflammation, itching, and helps the skin heal. Minimizing scaling and flaking are helpful. Cold showers and cold packs can help relieve itching.

Psoriasis can affect relationships in a number of ways. It can be difficult to talk to family and friends about the disease. Dating may be avoided due to poor body image. Genital psoriasis can have a significant impact on sex and intimacy.

Depression is the most common disease associated with psoriasis; it’s twice as common as it is in the general population. It can have a significant impact on quality of life. People with psoriasis are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and attempts. A person with the symptoms of depression should be seen by a physician. The symptoms include:

  • Inability to sleep
  • Inability to get out of bed
  • Loss of energy
  • Lack of interests in things previously enjoyed
  • Inability to focus

Working with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can be challenging. Meeting with a supervisor to discuss how psoriasis may affect job performance is helpful. The workplace should be made comfortable. It may be necessary to invent ways to perform routine work tasks. The work area and schedules should be kept organized. Learn about disability benefits and eligibility requirements before they become necessary.

More Facts About Psoriasis

Psoriasis is not contagious because it is not an infection. Foods can improve or aggravate psoriasis. More information is available from the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF).

There are no reports of psoriatic lesions transforming into cancer. At the present time there is no cure for psoriasis, but there is ongoing research focused on finding a cure. You can pass on the genes for psoriasis.

Pregnancy can change psoriasis, and many of the medications used to treat psoriasis are not compatible with pregnancy. Discuss pregnancy with your doctors before getting pregnant. There is no clear connection between age and severity of psoriasis. One of the most powerful tools to help with managing the emotional effects is to get to know other people who also live with psoriasis. Go to http://www.psoriasis.org for ways to get connected.

Only one of the 5 types of psoriasis can potentially be deadly – erythrodermic psoriasis. This type is rare, occurring in only 3 percent of people with psoriasis. Death is exceedingly rare.

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Psoriasis Signs, Symptoms And Prevention

About 95 percent of the time, a psoriasis diagnosis can be made by visual inspection. There are five types of psoriasis:

Plaque psoriasis is characterized by red patches with a silvery-white buildup of dead skin cells, appearing most often on the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back. They are often itchy, painful, and may crack and bleed.

Guttate psoriasis often starts in childhood or as a young adult. It’s the second most common type of psoriasis, occurring in about 10 percent of people who get psoriasis.

Inverse psoriasis shows up as very red lesions in body folds. It may appear smooth and shiny. Many people have another type of psoriasis on the body at the same time.

Pustular psoriasis is characterized by white pustules, blisters of noninfectious pus composed of white blood cells, surrounded by red skin. It is not infectious or contagious.

Erythrodermic psoriasis is a particularly inflammatory form that often affects most of the body surface. It’s rare, occurring in three percent of people who have psoriasis, often with unstable plaque psoriasis. The lesions are not clearly defined. There is widespread, fiery redness and exfoliation of the skin, with severe itching, and often pain. This form of psoriasis can be life-threatening.

Psoriasis can be mild, moderate or severe. Disease on less than three percent of the body is considered mild, and constitutes about 80 percent of cases. Three to 10 percent of the body affected is considered moderate; more than 10 percent of the body affected is considered severe. Twenty percent of cases are moderate to severe. The severity is also measured by how much the disease affects a person’s quality of life. Psoriasis can have a severe impact on daily activities, even if it involves a small area, such as the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.

Prevention

Psoriasis is not preventable, but it may be helpful to avoid the triggers which an individual has found to aggravate his or her particular case

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Treating Psoriasis May Improve Related Cardiovascular Symptoms

psoriasis-triggersApproximately 7.5 million people in the United States have psoriasis, and the impact of this disease goes far beyond its visible effects on the skin. “People with psoriasis, particularly those with more severe disease, have an increased risk for a variety of other health problems, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke and heart attack,” says board-certified dermatologist Jashin J. Wu, MD, FAAD, director of dermatology research at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. “Psoriasis patients, even those with mild disease, need to be aware of how this condition affects their overall health.”

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized in most patients by red, raised patches of skin, or plaques, covered with silvery-white scales. The inflammatory effects of this skin disease can impact the entire body, which may lead to cardiovascular problems, according to Dr. Wu..

Treating psoriasis may help improve cardiovascular symptoms by reducing skin inflammation, which in turn leads to less inflammation elsewhere in the body. Treatment options for moderate to severe psoriasis include phototherapy; systemic medications such as acitretin, cyclosporine and methotrexate; and biologics, which block the immune system responses that fuel inflammation.

Recent studies have indicated that biologic medications may improve cardiovascular symptoms in some psoriasis patients, but the exact reason for this improvement remains unclear. Dr. Wu says more research is required to determine whether a direct connection exists between biologic treatment and the improvement of cardiovascular symptoms, and to evaluate how biologics compare to other psoriasis treatments in reducing cardiovascular diseases. In the meantime, he advises all psoriasis patients to seek treatment, maintain a healthy weight and talk to their doctor about screening for cardiovascular conditions.

“Psoriasis is a serious medical condition that can have a detrimental effect on your overall health,” Dr. Wu says. “If you have this disease, talk to a board-certified dermatologist to determine the best treatment option for you. Managing your psoriasis is not just about improving your skin – it’s about caring for your entire well-being.”

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New Details Emerge About Psoriasis

Scientists from the Würzburg University Hospital have now focused on a cell type that has received little attention so far in connection with psoriasis: the so-called B lymphocytes. They were able to show that these cells are capable of influencing the skin disease by regulating the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10). They are a potential target for new therapies for the disease which is incurable according to the present state of research. The scientists have now published their findings in a recent issue of the journal Nature Communications.

“It was crucial to find out that synthesis of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 by the B lymphocytes through the interaction with the protein nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFATc1), a transcription factor, was reduced,” says Professor Matthias Goebeler of the University Hospital and Outpatient Clinic for Dermatology, Venerology and Allergology Würzburg. “NFATc1 inhibits reading of the IL-10 gene in B cells, ultimately resulting in poorer control of the inflammatory processes in the skin. By uncovering more details about the interaction, we could develop drugs that suppress the inflammatory processes in psoriasis even more specifically in the future.”

Skin Disease

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that affects one to three percent of the population. Psoriasis comes in various levels of severity from single inflamed and scaly spots – so-called plaques at the elbows or knees – to a very severe disease pattern affecting the entire skin. Around 20 percent of psoriasis patients additionally suffer from painful arthritis.

Typically, psoriasis patients experience recurrent flares of varying severity during their life. Depending on the extent and the course of the disease, different therapies are possible from topical agents and/or phototherapy to medication or injections.

The definition doctors and scientists use to describe psoriasis is: “A pathological and very complex autoimmune reaction of the skin.” The disease affects one to three percent of the population and is characterized by accelerated cell division in the upper dermal layers with proliferated skin cells and an inflammation of the skin beneath. Many different cells are involved in the complex processes: skin cells (keratinocytes) and cells of the immune system, among others T lymphocytes, macrophages, mast cells and others.

Another key contributor to the study was Edgar Serfling, active Senior Professor in the Department of Molecular Pathology at the Pathological Institute of the University of Würzburg.

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What Triggers Psoriasis?

psoriasis triggersThe skin condition psoriasis is still not fully understood. What we do know is that it is directly related to the immune system and how that influences the production of skin cells on the body. There is a T cell, which when it works properly, helps to fight off bacteria and viruses. Those who suffer from psoriasis have T cells that attack healthy skin cells, which causes the skin to show effects of the dilation of blood vessels that cause plaque on the skin. This is essentially what causes the skin to look how it does. When new skin cells transfer to the outermost layer of the skin too rapidly, dead skin and white blood cells gather and cause the skin breakouts.

Here are the known triggers that often cause issues with psoriasis. If you, or someone you love, is struggling with the skin condition, take inventory of these known triggers to be able to pinpoint why the issue may be getting worse.

Infections

If you have any type of skin infection or something like strep throat, this weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to psoriasis outbreaks.

Injuries

If you have suffered any type of injury to your skin, whether it be a bug bite, a scrape or cut, even a severe burn, your skin is working hard to fight off any potential infections and the onslaught of bacteria that is trying to access the wounded skin. This potentially can spur on a flare of psoriasis.

Stress

One of the preeminent causes of most flare ups in several conditions, stress can really cause psoriasis to become worse. Those who have highly stressful lifestyles may find that they have more rapid and constant outbreaks of psoriasis. Sometimes this manifests in bigger patches of affected skin.

Smoking

Most people are well aware that smoking is terrible for your health and shouldn’t be made a habit. Smoking has the potential to really lower your immunity and ability to fight off infections. Not only is smoking terrible for your oral health, but it also affects all other parts and aspects of your health as well including your skin.

Cold Weather

When the weather is too cold, many people deal with dry, cracked skin. Though this is the extent to which they deal with this issue, those who are susceptible to skin conditions or have a compromised immune system, may start to see the flaky and inflamed skin that is synonymous with psoriasis.

Specific Medications

Depending on what types of medications you take for any other conditions or ailments you have, they may interfere with your blood cells and cause a flare up of your skin condition. Certain drugs like beta blockers, blood pressure medication and iodides can sometimes have this unsavory effect.

There are numerous things that unfortunately can trigger and cause the onset of psoriasis. It’s important to pay attention to potential environmental factors, lifestyle triggers or other aspects that can negatively impact the presence of psoriasis or spur it on in any way.

Learn more about the causes and treatments for psoriasis

How To Minimize Psoriasis Symptoms And Flare-Ups

psoriasis skin disorder on an elbow
psoriasis skin disorder on an elbow

Those who suffer from the sometimes harrowing condition of psoriasis will be the first to tell you of how intricate, complex and difficult the skin condition can be. Psoriasis is the result of an autoimmune disorder that causes flaky, red, painful patches on the skin, on various parts of the body. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for this condition, as is the case with many autoimmune conditions. However, there are different ways to combat and treat the affected skin.

Like most conditions, stress is a leading factor associated with flare ups of psoriasis. Because of this, maintaining your stress levels and dealing with stress adequately, is of paramount importance. The way that stress impacts our body is very pertinent to our organs, glands and internal functioning.

Dietary Supplements

There are certain dietary supplements that will aid in the way our body deals with stress from the inside out. These supplements will also potentially help the unsightly psoriasis symptoms that sufferers are at the mercy of. Milk thistle, evening primrose oil, vitamin D and fish oil can help with the condition. Also, opening up a capsule of fish oil and applying the liquid directly to the affected skin works well.

Psoriasis patches are notoriously dry, so sometimes winter months are especially difficult for those afflicted. In order to combat the inherent dryness of the condition, making sure all affected skin in adequately moisturized, is very important. This also prevents the formation of plaque on the skin that can further perpetuate the noticeable skin issue. Another suggestion is to keep a humidifier on in your home or office, to make sure the air has enough moisture for your sensitive skin.

Something that should be avoided by those who struggle and suffer from psoriasis, is lotions and creams with any type of artificial fragrance. Although we all like to smell good, the type of chemicals that are included in many body butters, lotions and perfumes, can actually cause psoriasis symptoms to become more pronounced and apparent. They can even cause patches of psoriasis to show up in places previously unaffected. Using products with natural, soothing ingredients like oatmeal are suggested instead.

Phototherapy is often used for very acute cases of psoriasis. This form of treatment is referred to as light therapy and works directly on the surface of the affected skin. It works by using specific types of UV light shone from a special type of lamp to coat and then impede the growth of affected skin cells. This can get a little pricey and some believe exposure to that much continual light  is not necessarily good for the system.

Lack of a balanced healthy diet can also impact many autoimmune conditions, including psoriasis. Eating more organic foods and staying away from processed, unhealthy foods may slow down flare ups. It may also help to keep breakouts much more controlled and last for a shorter period of time. Overall, it’s important to incorporate changes in many different aspects of your life to help treat and prevent the presence of psoriasis.

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