Did you know that one of the most common skin conditions in the US is actually an immune condition? According to Harvard University, psoriasis affects around 2% of the US population — more than 6.6 million people! Odds are, if you go somewhere, like a busy grocery store, at least a few other shoppers are dealing with psoriasis.
Understanding your psoriasis can help break the stigma that surrounds it and spread awareness about treatment and management options.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is red, scaly patches of skin that tend to itch and burn, and may appear anywhere on the body. The patches are often uncomfortable or painful, but not contagious to people who don’t have the condition. There are several different types of psoriasis, and the exact symptoms might differ from person to person.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis, marked by patches on the trunk and limbs. People with this type of psoriasis often have affected knees, elbows, scalps, and fingernails.
Inverse psoriasis affects skin creases like underarms, around the groin and buttocks, or under breasts. Rather than dry, these patches are red and moist.
Pustular psoriasis is characterized by pustules across the body, and guttate psoriasis causes teardrop-shaped patches that are more common on the body.
Aside from being an immune and skin condition, psoriasis is also related to several other health issues. A 2017 study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reported that people with more than 10% of their body covered with psoriasis patches are 64% more likely than those without psoriasis to develop Type 2 Diabetes, for example.
Other related health issues, according to the Brazilian Society of Dermatology, might include depression, Crohn’s, and arthritis.
Who Gets Psoriasis?
Interestingly, statistics show that more men than women have psoriasis, but people of all ages and genders can have the condition. Like many other health conditions, psoriasis is linked to heredity. Psoriasis happens when the immune system causes certain areas of your skin to create new cells faster than average. Scientists believe that people with psoriasis inherit certain genes that make their immune systems more likely to do this.
Certain triggers can also make a psoriasis outbreak more likely. The biggest trigger of all is stress. Stress causes the body to release chemicals that promote an inflammatory response. Other triggers are weight gain, certain medications (including beta-blockers), strep throat, injury, and respiratory infections.
How to Treat Psoriasis — And How to Prevent Future Outbreaks
There’s no cure for psoriasis, but there are many medication options that can help manage it.
Common types of medication include topical treatments and creams, light therapy, pills and injections, and complementary medicine options like acupuncture. Often, a doctor will combine several of these treatments to find one that works best for you.
As for prevention, knowing common triggers makes it easier to avoid those things. Losing excess weight (or avoiding additional weight gain) could help prevent an outbreak. If you’re triggered by medication, adjusting your dosage may also help.
In today’s world, stress is hard to avoid, but maintaining proper stress management techniques could save your skin a lot of discomfort. Reducing stress is also good for mental and physical health overall.
Participate in a Research Study
Austin area residents: are you or someone you know struggling with skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, or rosacea? Participating in a research study provides an opportunity to be involved in the process of discovering new treatments while receiving compensation for time and travel. Inquire about eligibility by calling DermResearch at 512-349-0500 or view our current studies