According to research studies, more than 8 million Americans have psoriasis. 125 million people worldwide—2 to 3 percent of the total population—have psoriasis, according to the World Psoriasis Day consortium. Studies show that between 10 and 30 percent of people with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis. Psoriasis prevalence in African Americans is 1.3 percent compared to 2.5 percent of Caucasians (Gelfand, Stern, Nijsten, and Feldman, at al: 2005).
Psoriasis is a long-term autoimmune skin condition that can spread into an inflammatory joint arthritic condition. It has a significant impact on the patient’s life in many ways, requiring constant treatment and even making employment and social activities challenging.
An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks the body. The immune system normally guards against germs like bacteria and viruses. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them. Some autoimmune diseases target only one organ. Type 1 diabetes damages the pancreas. Other diseases, like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), affect the whole body (Medically reviewed by Stacy Sampson, on March 21, 2019 — Written by Stephanie Watson). Psoriasis is a difficult-to-treat condition that leads to scaly, dry, and itchy patches on the skin. It affects approximately 1-3% of the U.S. population, and people of all ages can have this condition, though its occurrence peaks in adolescence and when adults are in their 50s and 60s. Incidences are higher in white people and those with close relatives with the disorder but lower in warm and sunny parts of the country. This is a chronic condition, meaning it is ongoing, unlike an acute condition, such as a cold or the flu, which is short-lived. It may be mild or dormant at times, but becomes worse when a trigger, like stress or illness, activates it.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Psoriasis skin lesions are red, raised, and often covered with white scales. These lesions are itchy; in fact, the word ‘psoriasis’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘itchy.’ The lesions typically appear on the elbows, knees, and scalp, but they can appear anywhere on the body, even the nail beds. In addition, the condition can cause an inflammatory joint arthritis in about one-third of psoriasis patients. Joint arthritis impacts the patient’s daily functioning, especially when it affects the extremities, hips, back, or spine.
Psoriasis treatment usually requires a multi-tiered approach; each type of treatment is used for a while then rotated to another. That’s because some treatments work only for a short while then become less effective, while other treatments may cause side effects or even complications, so doctors limit their use. Treatment goals are to reduce itching, improve skin integrity, avoid secondary skin infections caused by bacteria or fungus getting into a lesion, as well as fostering a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle.
Topical medications and therapies
Excellent skin care is important; heavy moisturisers keep the skin more pliable and lubricated. Aloe Vera, vitamin E oil, and jojoba oil are natural products that moisturise lesions, and even sunlight helps reduce lesions. Bath solutions containing oils soften the white scales, while mineral salts may remove the scales as well as reduce itching.
Excimer lasers, high intensity ultraviolet B (UVB) wave light therapy devices or UVB home therapy are often effective for treating psoriasis. UVB light is found in sunlight, and the pulsed dye laser uses a different light wave and dye to target tiny blood vessels in lesions.