Psoriasis is a skin condition where your skin becomes very dry and forms dark red scaly patches, caused by your skin cells growing at an abnormally fast rate. It can affect any part of your skin, especially your elbows, knees, scalp, chest, tummy and back.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are treatments that can relieve the symptoms.
Your healthcare provider will provide symptom relief and help you prevent long-term complications.
You may have:
- Red patches of skin with silvery scales.
- Dry and itchy skin.
- Thick, pitting and discoloured nails break easily.
- Rashes and flaking skin followed by a burning sensation.
- Swollen and painful joints.
- Pus-filled rashes.
What causes the immune system to malfunction, leading to the rapid growth of skin cells, is unclear. Most people with psoriasis have a relative with the condition and will have some environmental factors that triggers the condition.
You are more likely at risk if:
- You are stressed.
- You have skin or throat infections.
- You sustain injury to the skin from cuts or bug bites.
- You are exposed to cold and dry weather.
- There is constant friction and sweating on your skin.
- You have a parent that has psoriasis.
- You use certain blood pressure or malaria drugs.
- You drink too much alcohol, or you smoke.
You should see your doctor if:
- The rashes continue to spread all over your body.
- You have joint pain and swelling that limits your movement.
- You have a fever.
Although there is no particular way to prevent psoriasis, you should always take good care of your skin by:
- Having your bath daily with soap and water.
- Making sure your skin is not too dry by using moisturizing lotions.
- Getting the right amount of sun on your skin daily.
- Treating skin injuries and infections promptly.
- Apply over-the-counter steroid cream, but do not use it for more than two weeks.
- Reducing stress and anxiety.
- Expose your skin to sunlight for some period every day.
- Pat your skin dry after bathing every day and apply moisturising creams while your skin is still moist.
- Take note of your triggers for psoriasis and avoid them.
- Stop drinking alcohol and smoking.
- Your healthcare provider may offer you different treatments, including corticosteroid cream, vitamin D analogue creams, retinoids, and salicylic acid.
- Your healthcare provider may also recommend light therapy (exposure to sunlight or special lamps) if your condition is moderate to severe. This can be in addition to medication and other treatments.
- Oral (or injected) medications like methotrexate and anti-inflammatory agents like corticosteroids have been used successfully to manage symptoms of the disease.
It can be challenging living with psoriasis, especially if your flares are frequent and affect a large part of your body. There is no cure for psoriasis. You should adopt a healthy balanced diet, avoid chemicals likely to make your psoriasis worse, apply the self-care tips described above and work with your healthcare provider to improve your quality of life.