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A Guide to Psoriasis

Psoriasis is one of the longest known illnesses of the human body, and having once thought to be leprosy, is one of the most misunderstood illnesses to this day. Psoriasis is a chronic non-contagious auto-immune disease that affects the skin and joints. It can cause red scaly skin called plaques and can be very painful. These are areas of inflammation and excessive build up of the skin due to over production. Skin accumulates at various parts of the body, and takes on a silvery-white appearance. This usually occurs at the elbows and knees, but can affect any area of the body.

The cause of psoriasis is not known, but it is believed to be genetic or induced by stress, corticosteroids withdrawal, alcohol consumption, and smoking. Symptoms are: Plaque psoriasis which is the most common. The inflammation appears as raised areas on the skin with a scaly appearance. Flexural psoriasis appears as a smooth patch of inflamed skin around the genitals, armpits, and anywhere the body has skin folds. It is aggravated by sweat and friction, and tends to be prone to fungal infections. Guttate psoriasis is characterized by numerous small inflammation spots appearing over large parts of the body and is also associated with strep throat. Pustular psoriasis appears as raised inflamed bumps filled with pus resembling acne and is non- infectious. The skin is very tender both under and around the site. Diagnosis is made by appearance and there is no medical test to check for the disorder.

There are different types of psoriasis. There is nail psoriasis which produces changes in the finger and toe nail such as lines in the nail, thickening, discolorations, and crumbling of the nail itself. Psoriatic arthritis settles in the joints and causes inflammation if the connective tissues, resulting in the enlargements of digits giving a sausage appearance. It can affect the knees, hips, and spine. Erythrodermic psoriasis involves the widespread inflammation of the skin over most of the patients body, can be accompanied by sever itching, swelling, and sever pain. This is often the result of a withdrawal of medication and can by fatal by causing a failure in the body to regulate temperature.

There are a variety of treatments for psoriasis. There are soothing bath solutions and topical medications with intense moisturizers blended into them that help the affected area by reducing dryness. Some patients respond well to immunosuppressant’s that are used to block molecules that dendric cells use to communicate to T cells therefore effectively controlling inflammation and flare ups. Cognitive behavior therapies have been reported to be mentally helpful while the patient also uses traditional treatments. Phototherapy which is short exposure to sunlight and ultra violet light has shown to clear and improve psoriasis in some patients. Photo chemotherapy is a combination of UV light with oral and topical medications working together. Systemic treatments are used when the patient is out of other traditional options because of resistance to treatment. Medications are taken through intravenous injections or in pill form. Blood test to measure kidney functions is essential as the body can experience toxicity to the medications.

Although psoriasis treatments are numerous there is no cure for the illness. 

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