Psoriasis: Symptoms, Causes, Types and Treatment

About Psoriasis

Psoriasis Statistics

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by red, flaky, and crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales. These patches typically occur on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back but can develop anywhere on the body. The condition generally affects small areas, although the patches can be itchy or sore. 

Approximately 2-3% of the world population is affected by psoriasis, which can manifest at any age but commonly begins in adults under 35 years old. It impacts both genders equally. 

The severity of psoriasis can vary significantly among individuals. For some, it is merely a minor annoyance, while for others, it significantly disrupts their quality of life. 

Psoriasis is a persistent condition that alternates between phases of remission — when symptoms are absent or mild — and flare-ups, where symptoms become more intense.  

Symptoms of Psoriasis

Symptoms of Psoriasis

The symptoms of psoriasis are highly visible and can vary depending on the type of psoriasis. Common symptoms include red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales, dry and cracked skin that may bleed, itching, burning, or soreness, thickened or ridged nails, and swollen and stiff joints. Symptoms can differ from one person to another and be more severe in certain areas such as the scalp, nails, or joints.

Causes of Psoriasis

The exact cause of psoriasis remains unclear, though it is understood to be an immune system problem with T cells and other white blood cells, called neutrophils, in the body. These immune cells mistakenly attack healthy skin cells, causing the rapid overproduction of new skin cells and more immune responses. Genetic factors also play a crucial role, as psoriasis often runs in families, indicating a hereditary component. In a healthy individual, skin cells originate from the skin’s deepest layer and ascend to the surface, undergoing a life cycle of approximately 3 to 4 weeks before being shed. For those with psoriasis, this cycle compresses into just 3 to 7 days. Consequently, immature skin cells amass on the skin’s surface, forming distinctive red patches adorned with silvery scales.

Immune System Involvement

The immune system, designed to ward off disease, plays a pivotal role in psoriasis. T-cells, essential immune cells, typically circulate the body to counteract pathogens. In psoriasis sufferers, however, these cells erroneously target healthy skin cells. This abnormal activity prompts the skin to hasten cell production, thereby stimulating an excessive immune response. The precise catalyst for this immune anomaly remains unknown, though genetics and environmental factors likely contribute.

Genetic Factors

A familial predisposition to psoriasis is evident, with one-third of patients having a relative with the disorder. The genetic basis is complex, involving multiple genes that possibly increase susceptibility to psoriasis. Nonetheless, possession of these genes does not guarantee the development of the condition.

Triggering Factors

Psoriasis may be exacerbated or initiated by specific triggers. Recognizing personal triggers can help mitigate flare-ups. Frequent triggers include skin injuries, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, stress, hormonal shifts, and certain medications like lithium and beta blockers. Moreover, young adults and children may experience a variant known as guttate psoriasis following streptococcal throat infections, though such infections do not universally lead to psoriasis. It is crucial to note that psoriasis is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

It is crucial to note that psoriasis is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from one person to another.

Common Types of Psoriasis

Plaque Psoriasis (Psoriasis Vulgaris)
The most common form is characterized by dry, raised, red skin lesions (plaques) covered with silvery scales.

Scalp Psoriasis
This type manifests on the scalp, extending to the forehead, the back of the neck, or behind the ears.

Nail Psoriasis
Affects the fingernails and toenails, causing pitting, abnormal nail growth, and discoloration.

Guttate Psoriasis

Guttate Psoriasis
Usually starts in childhood or young adulthood, presenting as small, water-drop-shaped, scaling lesions on the trunk, arms, legs, and scalp.

Inverse (Flexural) Psoriasis

Shows up as bright red, shiny lesions that appear in skin folds, such as under the breasts, in the groin, or armpits.

Pustular Psoriasis
Pustular Psoriasis is marked by the presence of white pustules, which are blisters filled with noninfectious pus, set against a backdrop of reddened skin.

Generalized Pustular Psoriasis or von Zumbusch Psoriasis
A rare and severe form of pustular psoriasis that can lead to severe illness.

Palmoplantar Pustular Psoriasis
Primarily affects the soles of the feet and palms of the hands.

Acropustulosis
A rare type of psoriasis that usually affects the tips of the fingers and toes.

Erythrodermic Psoriasis
A rare form of psoriasis may cover the entire body with a red rash that peels and can cause severe itching or burning sensations.

How Psoriasis is Diagnosed

Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination of the skin, nails, and scalp. For confirmation, a biopsy of the skin may be taken to view under a microscope. Since psoriasis can mimic other skin diseases, a biopsy can help differentiate.

Treating Psoriasis

Topical Treatments
Includes creams and ointments applied directly to the skin to reduce inflammation and cell turnover.

Phototherapy
Phototherapy involves regularly exposing the skin to ultraviolet light under the guidance of a medical supervision.

Systemic Treatments
These are prescription drugs or injections that affect the whole body and are used for individuals with moderate to severe psoriasis or when other treatments are ineffective.

Innovative Methods: Probiotic Therapy (Probiotherapy)

Probiotherapy is an emerging and promising method in the treatment of psoriasis, prioritizing the health and balance of the skin’s microbiome. A healthy skin microbiome is in balance, meaning the bacteria and other microorganisms living there exist in symbiosis with the body. Various environmental and lifestyle factors can disrupt this balance, leading to a state known as “dysbiosis”. Dysbiosis can result in the overgrowth of harmful bacteria or fungi, which in turn triggers inflammation and irritation of the skin.

Probiotic Therapy with MiBiome

 

Traditional treatments such as antibiotics, antiseptics, and antimycotics often target and eliminate all bacteria, not just the harmful ones. This approach can temporarily alleviate symptoms but doesn’t address the underlying imbalance. It can lead to a cycle of recurring symptoms and incomplete recovery as the microbiome is left in a weakened state, susceptible to further dysbiosis.

Probiotherapy aims to break this cycle by strengthening and protecting the skin’s microbiome. This approach involves using products like MiBiome that support the growth of beneficial bacteria and restore microbial balance, helping to maintain the natural defenses of the skin against psoriasis flare-ups. By fostering a healthy microbiome, probiotherapy offers a sustainable solution to manage psoriasis, aiming to reduce the frequency and severity of episodes without the adverse effects associated with broad-spectrum antimicrobial treatments. This innovative method represents a significant advancement in dermatological care, offering hope for those seeking a natural, effective management strategy for their psoriasis symptoms.

Living with Psoriasis

Living with psoriasis can be challenging as it often affects a person’s emotional and physical health. Regular contact with healthcare providers for managing symptoms is crucial. Lifestyle changes like a balanced diet and regular exercise can mitigate some risks associated with psoriasis, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Emotional support, recognizing the signs of psoriatic arthritis, and careful management during pregnancy are also important aspects of living with psoriasis.

Disclaimer:
The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.