August is Psoriasis Action Month, dedicated to raising awareness, garnering support, and finding a cure for a disease that affects more than 7 million people in America, alone.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease, characterized by inflammation stemming from an immune system malfunction that has no obvious cause.
Psoriasis is not passed from person to person like a contagion. You cannot get it from touching someone’s skin or sharing clothing. It is believed genetics plays a large role in its development, and it frequently runs in families.
The symptoms of psoriasis resulting from this inflammation may be visual:
- Raised plaques or scales may appear on the body caused by rapid skin cell growth. In a healthy individual, skin cells grow and are shed repeatedly within a month. Psoriasis causes these skin cells to accumulate on the skin’s surface. These plaques – which can be found on any part of the body but typically affect the scalp, elbows, and knees – may cause a great deal of discomfort, itching, burning, and stinging.
Additionally, there are five different kinds of psoriasis that are differentiated by the scales they produce:
- Plaque psoriasis is the most common, causing red skin patches with silverish scales.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis is a rare form of the disease, resulting in large, intense areas of red skin that sheds in sheets, akin to a sunburn. If this kind of psoriasis is expected, immediate medical attention is required.
- Intertriginous (inverse) psoriasis causes patches in skin folds, such as under the armpits, breasts, and genitals.
- Guttate psoriasis affects only eight percent of the population and results in red, water drop-shaped papules. It can be triggered by an infection like strep.
- Pustular psoriasis results in blisters and pustules and can be triggered by certain medications or infections – or even stress.
Other symptoms of psoriasis may manifest under the surface. Psoriatic arthritis causes joint swelling, stiffness, and pain, and affects approximately 30% of psoriasis sufferers. Though it can affect people of any age, it typically manifests between the ages of 30 and 50 and usually 10 years or so after the development of the initial disease. Some people, however, experience arthritis without ever developing the normal, skin-level symptoms of psoriasis.
Treating the symptoms of psoriasis may vary depending on the type and the individual. The physicians at your local urgent care may be able to point you in the right direction:
- Topical ointments and lotions may provide relief, whether prescribed or over the counter.
- Light therapy or phototherapy – whether natural sunlight or administered at a clinic under controlled conditions – has been shown to alleviate symptoms.
- Prescription medications, both oral and injected, may be recommended by your doctor.
Regular bathing and practicing good hygiene are also important for those suffering from the symptoms of psoriasis. Reducing stress is also an integral component for those individuals whose flare-ups are caused by this trigger.
If you believe you may be showing symptoms of psoriasis, the doctors at Quality First Urgent Care can help. Our team will be able to diagnose your condition and recommend a course of treatment to help you feel better. If additional assistance is needed for any reason, we can also refer you to a specialist. Our clinics are open daily.