What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes skin redness and irritation. It occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells. Most people with psoriasis have thick, red skin with flaky, silver-white patches called scales. Psoriasis can appear suddenly or slowly. In many cases, psoriasis goes away and then flares up again repeatedly over time.
People with psoriasis have irritated patches of skin. The redness is most often seen on the elbows, knees, and trunk, but it can appear anywhere on the body. For example, there may be flaky patches on the scalp.
Signs & Symptons of Psoriasis
The skin patches or dots may be:
- Dry and covered with silver, flaky skin (scales)
- Pink-red in color (like the color of salmon)
- Raised and thick
Other symptoms may include:
- Genital lesions in males
- Joint pain or aching (psoriatic arthritis)
- Nail changes, including nail thickening, yellow-brown spots, dents (pits) on the nail surface, and separation of the nail from the base
- Severe dandruff on the scalp
Who Gets Psoriasis?
As with most other autoimmune diseases, there is a strong connection between genetics and the prevalence of psoriasis. Around one third of those who are diagnosed with psoriasis have reported a family history of the condition as well.
In most cases, people who have psoriasis experience flare-ups that come and go in varying degrees. Although autoimmune diseases are generally more common in women than men, psoriasis develops in men and women at an equal rate. Psoriasis occurs in all ethnic groups and has a prevalence of only 1.9% in African-Americans whereas 3.6% of Caucasians develop psoriasis.
Psoriasis typically affects occurs between the ages of 15 and 35 but anyone of any age is susceptible. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about 10 to 15% percent of psoriasis patients are under the age of 10. Psoriasis has even been found in infants, although it is far less common.
What Causes Psoriasis?
The direct cause of psoriasis is not completely understood. Autoimmune diseases are conventionally thought to be quite mysterious in nature, but many theories and studies have emerged stating environmental and nutritional factors play a significant role in both the severity and prevalence of many autoimmune diseases.
Aside from the genetic link, environmental “triggers” such as stress, pollution, and infection have been found to initiate psoriasis flare-ups. Similarly, research on diet and nutrition has provided some clues as to why certain “trigger” foods affect the severity and frequency of psoriasis flare-ups. When the immune system attack itself, inflammation occurs–as it does when it is attacking a foreign body. As such, patients have found relief by avoiding inflammatory foods like dairy, wheat, soy and refined sugars.
Psoriasis and Autoimmune Disease
With psoriasis the immune system becomes hyperactive, sending out faulty signals that cause the skin to grow at an abnormally fast rate. The typical build-up of tissue is a direct result of the excess production of skin cells.
With a normal skin cell cycle, it takes on average 28 to 30 days for your body to produce new skin cells and shed old ones. With psoriasis, the overactive immune system causes new cells to appear on the surface of the skin every three to four days. The body is incapable of shedding the old cells despite new ones being pushed to the surface. As a result, mounds of dead skin cells begin to pile up, creating the thick, red, and irritated “plaques.”
In 2012, The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published a study that found those who affected by psoriasis to be almost twice as likely to develop another autoimmune disease. There have been 17 connections made between psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases, with rheumatoid arthritis being the most common.
Psoriasis and RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis)
It is not uncommon for those with psoriasis to experience joint pain. Both psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis share similarities, but differentiating the two is an important step in proper diagnosis. In nearly 30% of psoriasis cases, psoriatic arthritis will eventually occur. If you have both conditions, your risk for developing another autoimmune disease increases even more so.
Rheumatoid Arthritis causes bone erosion near the joint whereas Psoriatic Arthritis leads to erosion and new bone formation. In addition, Psoriatic Arthritis not only affects the joints directly, but the areas where ligaments and tendons attach to the bone as well.
The Different Types of Psoriasis
There are five different categories psoriasis can fall into, and in many cases, patients can exhibit more than one type. The following is a list of the different types of psoriasis and a description of each:
- Plaque Psoriasis
Plaque Psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. It causes red, raised patches to appear on the surface of the skin. Usually, this type of psoriasis is itchy and can cause the skin to crack and bleed.
- Guttate Psoriasis
Guttate psoriasis appears as small, dot-like lesions. This is the type of psoriasis that is most often triggered by a strep infection.
- Inverse Psoriasis
Inverse psoriasis appears most often in folds of the body, like underneath the arm or behind the knee. It is very red, smooth, and has a shine to it.
- Pustular Psoriasis
White pustules containing white blood cells distinguish pustular psoriasis from other types of psoriasis and usually appears on the hands or feet.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis
This is the most severe type of psoriasis, and is usually the most painful.This type of psoriasis only affects 3% of those diagnosed with psoriasis.
In most cases, psoriasis appears on the scalp, hands, feet, nails, genitals, skin folds, and the face.
Alternative Medicine and Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that is more than skin-deep. For this reason, many who are afflicted with psoriasis have sought out alternative or holistic medicine that extends beyond the prescription of ointments and creams.
At LifeWorks Wellness Center, an all natural, holistic healthcare approach is used to effectively treat not only the symptoms of psoriasis, but the underlying cause as well.
Meet With An Autoimmune Specialist
LifeWorks Wellness Center is considered to be one of Florida’s top autoimmune disease clinics. We have worked with a multitude of autoimmune diseases, and have provided patients with a proper diagnosis that will get them on the right road to recovery. After a proper diagnosis has been made, a customized, holistic treatment will be administered, so you can be well on your way toward good health.
Book an Appointment Today!
Don’t let psoriasis affect your quality of life any longer. Schedule an appointment to be seen by an autoimmune disease specialist and find relief with effective, holistic treatment tailored specifically to your needs. Please call our New Patient Coordinator at (727) 466-6789 or simply submit an online web inquiry with a request, and you’ll be well on your way to recovery.
Helpful Autoimmune Disease Resources
- Autoimmune Disease Treatment Specialists - our main site section dedicated to treating Autoimmune Disease
- Autoimmune Disease Treatment Videos - The Doctors tell you all about Autoimmune Disease.