Psoriasis is a common skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. It causes cells to build up quickly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes painful.
A chronic skin disease, it affects nearly 2% of the world population. In Malaysia, a total of 8,039 people have been reported to have psoriasis.
According to Healthline, psoriasis is an autoimmune condition. This is a condition where the body attacks itself. In the case of psoriasis, white blood cells known as T cells mistakenly attack the skin cells.
In a typical body, white blood cells are instructed to attack and destroy invading bacteria and fight infections. In this condition however, this mistaken attack causes the skin cell production process to go into overdrive.
PSORIASIS IS NOT CONTAGIOUS
Medicine Net states that psoriasis isn’t contagious which means it is not possible to pass the skin condition from one person to another. Touching a psoriatic wound on another person won’t cause him/her to develop the condition.
Psoriasis signs and symptoms are different for everyone. Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales,
- Small scaly spots (commonly seen in children)
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- Itching, burning or soreness
- Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
- Swollen and stiff joints
Most types of psoriasis go through cycles, flaring up (menjadi-jadi) for a few weeks or months, then subsiding (reda) for a time or even going into complete remission.
According to Healthline, there are five types of psoriasis:
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. The American Academy of Dermatology (ADD) estimates that about 80 percent of people with the condition have plaque psoriasis. It causes red, inflamed patches (tompokan beradang) that cover areas of the skin. These patches are often covered with whitish-silver scales or plaques. These plaques are commonly found on the elbows, knees, and scalp.
Guttate psoriasis is common in childhood. This type of psoriasis causes small pink spots. The most common sites for guttate psoriasis include the torso, arms, and legs.
Pustular psoriasis is more common in adults. It causes white, pus-filled blisters (melepuh yang mempunyai nanah) and broad areas of red, inflamed skin. It is typically localized (terhad) to smaller areas of the body, such as the hands or feet, but it can be widespread.
Inverse psoriasis causes bright areas of red, shiny, inflamed skin. Patches of inverse psoriasis develops under armpits or breasts, in the groin, or around skin folds in the genitals.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is a severe and very rare type of psoriasis. This form often covers large sections of the body at once. The skin almost appears sunburned. Scales (sisik) that develop often slough off (tanggal) in large sections or sheets.
It’s common for a person with this type of psoriasis to have a fever or become very ill. This type can be life-threatening, so individuals should see a doctor immediately.
TREATMENTS FOR PSORIASIS
Since psoriasis has no cure, the treatments aim to reduce inflammation and scales, to slow the growth of skin cells, and remove plaques. Psoriasis treatments fall into three categories:
Creams and ointments applied directly to the skin can be helpful to reduce mild to moderate psoriasis. Topical treatments include topical corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues salicylic acid and moisturizers.
People with moderate to severe psoriasis, and those who haven’t responded well to other treatment types, may need to use oral or injected medications. Many of these medications have severe side effects. Doctors usually prescribe them for short periods of time.
These medications include methotrexate, cyclosporine and biologics retinoids.
Light therapy (Terapi Cahaya)
This treatment uses ultraviolet (UV) or natural light. Sunlight kills the overactive white blood cells that are attacking healthy skin cells that cause the quick cell growth.
Both UVA and UVB light may be helpful in reducing symptoms of mild to moderate psoriasis.
This type of therapy uses more than one of the treatment types to reduce symptoms. Some people may use the same treatment their entire lives, while others may need to change treatments occasionally if their skin stops responding to what they’re using.
Psoriasis typically starts or worsens because of a trigger that you may be able to identify and avoid. Factors that may trigger it include:
- Infections, such as strep throat or skin infections
- Injury to the skin, such as a cut or scrape, a bug bite, or a severe sunburn
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Certain medications such as lithium, which is prescribed for bipolar disorder and high blood pressure medications such as beta blockers, antimalarial drugs, and iodides.
Psoriasis can cause most individuals to feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. According to MyHealth Portal, although there is no cure for psoriasis, patients can control the progression of the disease by correctly adhering to the prescribed medications.
Patients should also identify and avoid any factors that can worsen the condition.
Psoriasis patients can seek help from Psoriasis Association of Malaysia. Founded in 1987, it is a registered, non-profit, self-help organisation to help improve the life of people with psoriasis and their families.