Psoriasis is a lot more stigmatised than most other skin diseases. Most people avoid physical contact with patients of psoriasis because they (incorrectly) assume the condition is contagious. What’s more, the chronic skin condition causes physical pain, discomfort, and can be emotionally challenging because of its highly visible nature. Every year, August is recognised as Psoriasis Awareness Month, and this year we’ve roped in Dr Prashant Dash, Chief Medical Director at DocOnline Health, to share invaluable advice, treatment options and home remedies for psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory, non-contagious skin condition affecting approximately 125 million people worldwide. It is typically lifelong, with a fluctuating course of exacerbations and remission of lesions, which may be aggravated by genetic, infectious, emotional, and environmental factors. Psoriasis significantly impairs the quality of life of patients and their families, resulting in great physical, emotional and social burden.
It is found to be slightly more common in males compared to females. Research has demonstrated that female hormones, especially estrogen, significantly influence the onset and flare-ups of psoriasis. For example, many females experience the onset of psoriasis with puberty when there is a significant rise in female hormones. Psoriasis also tends to worsen around periods and during menopause. Pregnancy, on the other hand, has a calming effect on psoriasis.
Psoriasis appears as red, thick, dry, itchy, silvery, scaly patches on the skin, commonly affecting elbows, knees, area in between buttocks and scalp. Signs and symptoms vary depending on the type of psoriasis and the severity of the disease. Some variants of psoriasis may involve the extremities (palms and soles), fingernails or the joints (psoriatic arthritis occurs in up to 15% to 30% of psoriasis patients).
The common causes of psoriasis flares are: 1. Puberty or menopause: Women tend to experience worsening of symptoms before their periods, after delivery or during menopause due to fluctuations in levels of hormones, which influences the inflammation. 2. Stress: Psychological stress aggravates the disease process, causing flare-ups. It affects the immune system and promotes the inflammatory response. 3. Infections such as strep throat or a respiratory infection.