Identifying, treating and preventing
Psoriasis is a disease characterized by red or scaly patches on the skin, mostly on the elbows, knees, scalp and genitals, though it is sometimes found on the fingernails and toenails of sufferers. A full-blown outbreak of psoriasis can cause the whole body to exhibit signs of the skin condition. In some cases the skin turns a silvery-white color in appearance.
Psoriasis has no common cause, though in some cases lifestyle choices are known to aggravate the condition, including stress, alcohol use and smoking. It is also sometimes linked to depression and low self-esteem; sufferers feel badly about their appearance, which leads to depression. Sufferers are also known to have difficulties sleeping and performing basic activities due to the extreme pain and itching. If the condition exists on the hands or feet, the person may have problems working in certain jobs or playing sports.
Psoriasis affects all races and genders equally, often occurring in those between 15 to 25. Though there is no known cause, most outbreaks occur in conjunction with a skin injury or a strep infection, and in some cases during periods of extreme stress.
The treatment of psoriasis depends on the patient's age and medical history. The first type of treatment usually prescribed is a medicated cream applied directly to the skin. The next step is phototherapy where ultraviolet rays are beamed into the skin. The doctor might also prescribe medications or steroid injections to lessen the pain and reduce the appearance of the condition.
Some sufferers prefer to treat their condition at home through the use of lotions and moisturizers, which keep the skin from tightening and drying out. Another option is to use prescribed or over-the-counter medicated creams and lotions. The use of creams can be a minor annoyance as they contain chemicals that can damage clothing, and usually have a strong medicinal scent. Others find increasing their daily dosage of vitamin A reduces their outbreaks of psoriasis, and frequent exposure to saltwater has also been shown to help some sufferers.
Psoriasis is usually characterized by one outbreak at a younger age, and other reoccurrences later in life. Unfortunately even the most successful treatments are not known to completely stop the condition; someone who undergoes extreme treatment to cure one outbreak is not immune from future outbreaks. It has been suggested that eating healthier, exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce the chances of future outbreaks.
Though psoriasis is a serious problem, many sufferers live long and healthy lives, viewing their condition as only a minor inconvenience.
By Jennifer Eblin