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FAQ's about Psoriasis, Health Complications, Psoriasis Triggers|
More about psoriasis
Can psoriasis affect all parts of the body? Psoriasis most commonly appears on the scalp, knees, elbows and torso. But psoriasis can develop anywhere, including the nails, palms, soles, genitals and face (which is rare). Often the lesions appear symmetrically, which means in the same place on the right and left sides of the body.
Is all psoriasis alike? No. There are various forms of psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is the most common. Other forms are:
~ Guttate [GUH-tate], characterized by small dot-like lesions
~ Pustular [PUHS-choo-ler], characterized by weeping lesions and intense scaling
~ Inverse, characterized by intense inflammation
~ Erythrodermic [eh-REETH-ro-der-mik], characterized by intense shedding and redness of the skin
~ Psoriasis can range from mild to moderate to very severe and disabling.
Can psoriasis occur at any age? Psoriasis often appears between the ages of 15 and 35, but it can develop at any age. Approximately 10 percent to 15 percent of those with psoriasis get it before age 10. Some infants have psoriasis, although this is considered rare.
Is this skin condition more prevalent in men or women, or in different ethnic groups? Psoriasis occurs nearly equally in men and women across all socioeconomic groups. It is also present in all racial groups, but in varying rates.
What health complications are associated with psoriasis? The skin, the largest organ in the body, plays an important role. It controls body temperature and serves as a barrier to infection. Large areas of psoriasis can lead to infection, fluid loss and poor blood flow (circulation).
Is psoriasis linked to other diseases? Psoriatic arthritis is a specific type of arthritis that has been diagnosed in approximately 23 percent of people who have psoriasis, according to the Psoriasis Foundation's 2001 Benchmark Survey. Psoriatic arthritis is similar to rheumatoid arthritis but generally milder. In psoriatic arthritis, the joints and the soft tissue around them become inflamed and stiff. Psoriatic arthritis can affect the fingers and toes and may involve the, neck, lower back, knees and ankles. In severe cases, psoriatic arthritis can be disabling and cause irreversible damage to joints.
How severe can my psoriasis become? Psoriasis can be mild, moderate or severe. Three percent to 10 percent of the body affected by this skin condition is considered to be a moderate case. More than 10 percent is considered severe. The palm of the hand equals 1 percent of the skin. However, the severity of psoriasis is also measured by how psoriasis affects a person's quality of life. Psoriasis can have a serious impact even if it involves a small area, such as the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
What are psoriasis triggers? Triggers can include emotional stress, injury to the skin, some types of infection and reactions to certain drugs. Stress can cause psoriasis to flare for the first time or aggravate existing psoriasis. Psoriasis can also be triggered in areas of the skin that have been injured or traumatized. This is known as the "Koebner phenomenon." Vaccinations, sunburns and scratches can all trigger a Koebner response. The Koebner response can be treated if it is caught early enough. Certain medications, like antimalarial drugs, lithium and certain beta-blockers, are also known to cause people's psoriasis to flare. Other triggers may include weather, diet and allergies. Triggers will vary from person to person and what may cause one person's psoriasis to flare may produce no reaction in another individual.
Why does my psoriasis itch, and how do I control the itching? Itching that is associated with psoriasis arises when certain chemicals stimulate nerve fibers just below the outer layer of the skin. Itch messages travel to the brain along the same pathways in the nervous system that carry pain messages. Itch messages trigger the urge to scratch. One of the simplest ways for people with psoriasis to control itch is by keeping the skin moisturized. Dry skin can induce and aggravate itch. Many people also rely on simple, inexpensive measures, such as pressing a wet towel against the itchy spot. Others find cold showers and cold packs offer relief. Other treatments for itch include antihistamines, steroids, capsaicin, topical anesthetics, topical immunomodulators, antidepressants and aspirin.
Will having psoriasis affect my lifestyle or quality of life? For the most part, people with psoriasis function normally. Sometimes people experience low self-esteem because of the psoriasis. Psoriasis is often misunderstood by the public, which can make social interactions difficult. This may lead to emotional reactions such as anxiety, anger, embarrassment and depression. Psoriasis can affect the type of work people do if it is visible.
Is there hope for a cure? Yes. Researchers are studying psoriasis more than ever before. They understand much more about its genetic causes and how it involves the immune system. The National Psoriasis Foundation and the federal government are promoting and funding research to find the cause and cure for psoriasis.
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