On this page

Skin Conditions - Living with Psoriasis

Skin Conditions - Living with Psoriasis
On this page

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disease that affects at least 73,000 people in Ireland according to the Irish Skin foundation. It is a skin ailment that creates red, flaky (scaly) areas of skin.

It is possible to get psoriasis anywhere on your body but the most common places are scalp, elbows, or knees. It varies depending on the type of psoriasis you have. Some only affect specific sections of your body.

Psoriasis varieties

The most prevalent types of psoriasis are plaque psoriasis, scalp psoriasis, and nail psoriasis.

Plaque psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris)

The most prevalent kind of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis affects more than 8 out of 10 people with the condition. You will develop scale-covered dry red skin sores also known as plaques.

Plaques can be irritating, painful, or both and are mainly found on your elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back. They can, however, appear elsewhere on your body. The skin around your joints can split and bleed in severe cases.

Pic: Plaque psoriasis

Psoriasis of the scalp

Scalp psoriasis is a type of plaque psoriasis. It might affect sections of your scalp or the entire scalp.

Thick scales (dry and flaky) form, and cover areas of your scalp. It may create itching on your scalp. It can cause hair loss in extreme situations, but this is usually temporary.

Pic: Scalp psoriasis

Guttate psoriasis

Guttate psoriasis is another form of psoriasis, and it is characterised by tiny drop-shaped patches of red flaky skin. These will appear on your chest, arms, legs, and scalp. This form of the condition is sometimes developed following a streptococcal throat infection.

It is more prevalent in children and teenagers. Guttate psoriasis is likely to resolve within a few weeks. However, in rare situations, it might progress to plaque psoriasis.

Pic: Guttate psoriasis

Inverse (flexural) psoriasis

Inverse psoriasis affects areas of your body where the skin has folds or creases. This could be your armpit, groin, bottom, or under your breasts. It can generate big, smooth patches in any or all of these regions.

Inverse psoriasis can be aggravated by friction and perspiration. This means that you might feel discomfort in warm temperatures.

Pic: Inverse psoriasis

Nail Psoriasis

Psoriasis can also affect your nails. This occurs in less than half of those who get the condition.

It has the potential to cause your nails to:

  • Develop tiny dents or pits
  • Change colour or shape
  • Become loose and break away from the nail bed
  • Crumble (only in extreme situations)

Pic: Nail psoriasis

Causes of Psoriasis

Psoriasis occurs when your skin cells grow at an abnormally rapid rate. Over a three-to-four-week period, most people's skin cells grow, develop, and peel off. This happens considerably faster in those with psoriasis, over 3 to 7 days.

As a result, newly formed cells accumulate rapidly on your skin. Flaky, crusty patches covered in scales result from this.

1. Problems with the immune system

It's unclear why having psoriasis causes your skin to develop more quickly. However, it could be due to an issue with your immune system. Your immune system aids in preventing sickness from entering your body. Additionally, it aids in the battle against infection.

T-cells are one of the primary cell types that make up your immune system. Your body's circulating T-cells hunt down and combat bacteria and other foreign invaders. But in people with psoriasis, they begin to unintentionally attack healthy skin cells.

The deepest layer of skin produces new skin cells that develop more quickly than usual as a result. Then, your immune system continues to produce T-cells.

The precise aetiology of this immune system issue is unknown.

2. Family History

Psoriasis is hereditary. If you have a close family member who has it, you might be more prone to develop it yourself.

The precise relationship between genetics and psoriasis is unknown. But, psoriasis is associated with numerous genes. Different gene combinations may increase your risk of contracting it. However, psoriasis is not definite just because you have these genes.

Potential triggers of Psoriasis

A specific incident (a trigger) may cause your psoriasis to develop or worsen. If you are aware of your triggers, you may be able to prevent a flare-up.

Typical causes include:

  • A skin injury, such as a cut, scrape, bug bite, or sunburn (sometimes referred to as the Koebner response)
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes to occur more frequently in women, especially during puberty and the menopause.
  • Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs, ACE inhibitors (for high blood pressure), lithium, and several antimalarial drugs are some of the medications that can act as triggers
  • Throat infections can cause it, following a strep throat infection, certain individuals develop guttate psoriasis
  • Other immunological conditions, such HIV, that cause psoriasis to flare up or develop for the first time.

How to treat Psoriasis at home

  • Salicylic acid, a skin-softening and peeling agent that can assist in removing scales.
  • Coal tar, a chemical that can lessen itching and inflammation while also slowing the growth of skin cells.
  • Moisturisers, which can guard against skin dryness and cracking.
  • Corticosteroids - Steroid creams, which can lower inflammation and redness and suppress the immunological system.
  • Vitamin D cream, which can also inhibit skin cell growth and enhance skin appearance.

Talk to your doctor if you feel the psoriasis treatments at home are not working, and they may recommend a more specialist treatment.

Treatments fall into 3 categories:

  1. Topical – creams and ointments applied to your skin.
  2. Phototherapy – exposes your skin to measured amounts of certain types of ultraviolet light under medical supervision
  3. Systemic – oral and injected medications that work throughout the entire body.

Sources: HSE.ie and Irish Skin Foundation