Pale, itchy and dry skin from a lay man’s perspective has been associated with dehydration or more commonly, with people who find applying moisturizers unnecessary. As a result of this, most people may not be aware that the condition they are suffering from is actually psoriasis, however mild the symptoms are. Frequently, in the more severe form, psoriatic patients experience bleeding when they peel off the dry skin and can result in infection of the wound.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes overproduction of the topmost layer of the skin with increased skin cell layer turnover or shedding. As a result, there is continuous shedding of the skin, which results in a dry, flaky and itchy skin. This disorder is attributed to environmental, genetic and immunological disorders, but in most cases, the cause is unknown. The disorder results in dry and flaky skin on the elbows, scalp, knees and even the buttocks. The lesions or scars of psoriasis are cyclic in nature, occurring in flares and usually wax and wane with various environmental factors like life stresses, infection and even mental health disorders like depression.
There are various types of psoriasis, usually affecting more men than women. Patients suffering from psoriasis have a risk of developing various co-morbidities including lung disease, diabetes, kidney illness, heart disease and hypertension. In addition to the dry skin, psoriatic patients usually exhibit the dry eye syndrome and are usually managed by administration of artificial tears.
In most cases, where the psoriatic wounds are not infected, the disease is largely painless. However, it has been associated with a number of complications in different body systems. The lesions can be infected by bacteria resulting in foul smelling, puss producing and dirty wounds which require immediate attention to prevent further complications. Additionally, the patient may progress to psoriatic arthritis, certain heart disorders as well as gut diseases like inflammatory bowel disease.
Since there is no agent that has been identified to cure the disease, the goals of management and treatment include prevention of recurrent psoriatic lesions, prevention of wound infection, psychosocial support and awareness as well as immune-modulators to prevent further spread of the disease. Ocular (eye) manifestations, however, requires surgical treatment. The disease relatively isn’t deadly except for individuals who present with complications associated with psoriasis.
Since it is a lifelong condition, psoriatic individuals require a lot of psychological support as 30% of them are seen to have depression. Let us raise awareness about psoriasis and reduce the stigma associated with it. Together we can!
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