August is Psoriasis Awareness Month

Psoriasis is a chronic, non-contagious, autoimmune disease. It occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells. The most common type is plague psoriasis which appear as raised, red patches covered with silvery white build of dead skin cells. Psoriasis can occur on any part of the body and typically affect the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back. They are often itchy, painful, and can crack and bleed.

Psoriasis can become active when “triggered” however not all individuals have the same triggers. In order to develop psoriasis it is believed that an individual must have a combination of specific genes and then be exposed to external factors.

Stress can cause psoriasis to flare up for the first time or aggravate existing psoriasis. Relaxation and stress reduction techniques may help prevent high stress levels from impacting psoriasis. Psoriasis can also appear in areas of the skin that have been injured or traumatized. Examples of assaults can be vaccinations, sunburns and scratches all of which may trigger a reaction.

Certain medications can contribute to triggering psoriasis such as Lithium, Antimalarial, Inderal, Quinidine, and Indomethacin. It is important to note that not everyone who takes these drugs will develop psoriasis, only individuals who  carry a specific gene and then only in some cases.

People affected with psoriasis are almost twice as likely as the general population to be hospitalized for an infectious disease and psoriasis is associated with other serious health conditions such as psoriatic arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and depression. The most frequent infections are respiratory tract, abdominal and skin infections.

People with severe psoriasis may have a higher prevalence of comorbidities, unhealthy lifestyle factors and or a higher low grade inflammatory state that can affect infectious disease susceptibility.  The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends an Anti-Inflammatory Diet to help reduce symptoms of Psoriosis.

Appropriate treatment of psoriasis can only be determined after the client has been evaluated by a skin specialist. An early assessment is in the best interest of the client and as is all skin changes a Dermatologist should be seen as soon as possible.

For more information contact the National Psoriasis Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.