Psoriasis Facts

  • Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition.
  • Psoriasis is red, scaly and itchy.
  • Psoriasis runs in families and is therefore hereditary.
  • Psoriasis is rare in young children.
  • Psoriasis affects both males and females.
  • Psoriasis is more prevalent in Caucasians.
  • Psoriasis is sometimes associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Psoriasis usually affects otherwise healthy people.
  • Psoriasis is not contagious.
  • Psoriasis has no cure.

So they’re the facts about psoriasis! But what is psoriasis really? Why do you have psoriasis when your neighbor doesn’t, your best friend doesn’t, not even your sister does?

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the skin. It is the result of an abnormally rapid multiplication of the cells of the epidermal layer of the skin.

As we know we are continuously shedding the top layers of our skin and we are continuously producing new cells further down in the skin to replace the old ones that we lose. This way we always have new skin and our skin doesn’t wear out from over use.

For people with psoriasis, the cell production of their skin is 9 times faster than normal. This means they have 9 times more skin to shed, which results in continuous flaking of the skin.

It also means the cells do not have sufficient time to form properly. The normal process of maturation and keratinization does not take place, resulting in the formation of cells which are not able to provide the skin with its normal protective layers. Instead, the formation of thick scaly plaques appear which are silver in color.

Who gets Psoriasis?

Psoriasis tends to run in families although not all family members will develop it. There appears to be an hereditary defect causing the overproduction of keratin. This genetic problem lies dormant until triggered by an environmental stimuli. In some it may never be triggered whist in others it is triggered usually some time in the teen years.

The most common triggering factors leading to the first psoriatic lesion are emotional stress and anxiety. These are followed by trauma, infection, seasonal changes and hormonal changes.

The cause of the disease will vary from person to person. Some will experience one single life long lesion, others will develop many. Some will have remissions, whilst others are never free of the disease.

The one common factor is there is no cure and permanent and complete remission is rare. For those experiencing remissions a flare up of the condition may result from any of the factors triggering the initial lesion.

Scalp is the most common site for the first lesion

The scalp is the most common site for the first psoriatic lesion although the knees, elbows, chest, back and buttocks are also commonly affected. Psoriasis on the palms and soles often results in the development of pustular lesions. Under the nails is also commonly affected with the nail bed becoming pitted, discolored and scaly.

The lesions usually have a striking symmetrical distribution. They will usually enlarge slowly and may join together after months creating large irregular shaped patches.

You can control your Psoriasis!

Whilst there is no cure for Psoriasis, with good daily skin care the condition can be treated and controlled. The condition is usually less troublesome in summer as warm weather, sunlight and humidity are all favourable conditions for the psoriasis skin.

There are many different forms of treatment available for the sufferer of psoriasis. With consultation with a doctor and trial and error of different emollients the right solution for you can be found. New and effective forms of treatment are being developed every day as we learn more about the condition.

Mel Sinclair, RN