What is psoriasis, and how common is it in Australia?
What is Psoriasis – well it is one of the diseases considered as an auto-immune inflammation. It is also seen a genetic disease influenced by lifestyle and environmental factors like diet, routine, sunlight, irritants, injuries and pretty much anything which might cause the trigger of the immune system to repair the skin.
Over 125 million people worldwide with psoriasis, have to tolerate pain from itchy, cracking and bleeding skin, as well as embarrassment from continually shedding scales of it. In Australia, around 450,000 people are diagnosed with Psoriasis, including 120,000 in Victoria. Psoriasis affects males and females equally.
There are 5 main types of psoriasis depending on how it presents. In Australia we present fairly normally relative to most paler ethnic groups:
- Plaque Psoriasis: Is characterised by Red patches with white scales on top. This variety is the most common and is seen in almost 9 out of 10 affected individuals
- Guttate Psoriasis: Have lesions shaped like a teardrop
- Pustular Psoriasis: Characterised by small sterile pus-filled lesions. They are not infectious
- Inverse Psoriasis is seen as reddish patches appearing in the folds of skin
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis can evolve from any of the above types wherein the lesions become very extensive and occupy a significant portion of the skin surface
- Psoriatic arthritis is an advanced condition triggered by long term suppression of psoriasis
We go into more types of Psoriasis here.
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- Itching, burning or soreness
- Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
- Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
- Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
- Swollen and stiff joints
Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions that cover large areas of your body.
Most types of psoriasis go through cycles triggered by seasons, food types, or stress periods, flaring for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a time or even going into complete remission.
Psoriasis maybe linked to bacterial load, inflamed gut, inflammatory diet, stress, and other lifestyle issues. When the nearby joint is inflamed, the condition is called psoriatic arthritis.
What are some of the ways psoriasis presents?
There are several ways psoriasis can express itself on and in an individual. These include:
The most common form, plaque psoriasis causes dry, raised, red skin lesions (plaques) covered with silvery scales. The plaques might be itchy or painful and there may be few or many. They can occur anywhere on your body, including your genitals and the soft tissue inside your mouth.
Psoriasis can affect fingernails and toenails, causing pitting, abnormal nail growth and discoloration. Psoriatic nails might loosen and separate from the nail bed (onycholysis). Severe cases may cause the nail to crumble.
This type primarily affects young adults and children. It’s usually triggered by a bacterial infection such as strep throat. It’s marked by small, water-drop-shaped, scaling lesions on your trunk, arms, legs and scalp. The lesions are covered by a fine scale and aren’t as thick as typical plaques are. You may have a single outbreak that goes away on its own, or you may have repeated episodes.
This mainly affects the skin in the armpits, in the groin, under the breasts and around the genitals. Inverse psoriasis causes smooth patches of red, inflamed skin that worsen with friction and sweating. Fungal infections may trigger this type of psoriasis.
This uncommon form of psoriasis can occur in widespread patches (generalized pustular psoriasis) or in smaller areas on your hands, feet or fingertips. It generally develops quickly, with pus-filled blisters appearing just hours after your skin becomes red and tender. The blisters may come and go frequently. Generalized pustular psoriasis can also cause fever, chills, severe itching and diarrhea.
The least common type of psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis can cover your entire body with a red, peeling rash that can itch or burn intensely.
In addition to inflamed, scaly skin, psoriatic arthritis causes swollen, painful joints that are typical of arthritis. Sometimes the joint symptoms are the first or only manifestation of psoriasis or at times only nail changes are seen. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint. Although the disease usually isn’t as crippling as other forms of arthritis, it can cause stiffness and progressive joint damage that in the most serious cases may lead to permanent deformity.
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