What is psoriasis? We give you answers to all your questions

In this article, we want to give you all the information you need about psoriasis. Surely there are many questions you have had about this disease, so we hope to give you answers to all of them.

Here we go!

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that has no definitive cure. However, there are currently a wide variety of therapies that significantly reduce its effects. It is a disease that evolves by outbreaks. Sometimes it disappears for years or forever. On other occasions it appears periodically in the same body areas or in new ones. Physical or emotional stress may precipitate or worsen flare-ups.

Is it contagious?

No, but it has an important hereditary component. One in three patients with psoriasis has a family member with the same disease.

Is it very frequent?

In a study conducted in Spain in 2000 and published in 2001 called EPIDERMA, 1.4% of the population was found to have psoriasis. That is, if we are 46.6 million there are about 652,400 psoriatic in our country. In another study published in 2008, conducted on 3320 Spanish patients, they found that 13% of patients with psoriasis had joint involvement.

How does the disease start?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. The body defends itself against its own skin as if it were foreign, producing red, scaly lesions that crack, hurt and itch. The main cause of the disease is an excessive activation of T-lymphocytes, blood cells to defend the body against infections. This activation produces an increase in the diameter of the blood vessels of the skin (vasodilatation), which is manifested by the typical red color of the lesions. In addition, the normal cell turnover is accelerated (from 30 days in normal conditions to 5 days in psoriasis) so that scales accumulate.

Does cutaneous psoriasis always manifest itself in the same way?

There are different types of cutaneous psoriasis.

The most common is plaque psoriasis plaque psoriasis. It is characterized by red plaques on the skin of different sizes that usually itch and produce many white scales on the surface. The size of the plates varies from a few millimeters to several centimeters. These plaques are usually located mainly on the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp.

Image of localized plaque psoriasis on elbow

Psoriasis can also appear in the “big folds” of the body (armpits, groin or under the chest) and in such cases we call it inverted psoriasis.

When psoriasis affects the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, the lesions are somewhat different because these are areas that are subject to friction, so the skin cracks more easily and hurts. It is called palmoplantar psoriasis.

Psoriasis often appears on the nails, also called nail psoriasis. nail psoriasis. It manifests itself in different ways: punctiform depressions, color changes, detachment of the nail bed or thickening of the entire nail.

Image of nails affected by nail psoriasis

Does psoriasis only affect the skin?

Psoriasis is not only a skin problem, it is a systemic disease that can lead to other health problems. In recent years it has been shown that moderate or severe psoriasis is associated with other threats such as dyslipidemia (elevated levels of blood fats, cholesterol and triglycerides), diabetes (increased blood glucose levels) or arterial hypertension. We call these threats: psoriasis comorbidities. And their greatest danger is that they increase the risk of myocardial infarction.

The most common non-cutaneous pathology associated with psoriasis is psoriatic arthritis, a joint disease that causes pain, inflammation and difficulty in joint movement.

What is psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic inflammatory joint disease. Joints become swollen, painful and difficulty of movement may occur. If the inflammation is not treated early, there is a possibility of permanent damage to the joint causing deformity and difficulty of movement of the joint.

Will everyone with psoriasis have psoriatic arthritis?

No, only 15% of people with cutaneous psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis at some point in their lives. Early diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis is essential to stop the progression of the disease and irreversible joint damage. For this reason, if a person has psoriasis and has joint pain, he or she should see a dermatologist or rheumatologist for treatment as soon as possible.

What are the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis?

The onset of the disease is slow and insidious. Joint symptoms are similar to those of any type of arthritis: morning numbness, difficulty opening and closing the hands, pain with joint mobility and stiffness lasting more than one hour. Subsequently, symptoms improve throughout the day. Another typical manifestation is pain in the heels when resting the foot when getting up in the morning. If psoriatic arthritis appears in the spine and hip, nocturnal low back pain may appear, which improves when getting up and walking.

How should a person with psoriasis care for his or her skin?

Psoriasis lesions appear or worsen when the skin is dry, so it is essential to use soft gels without detergents and moisturizing creams daily after showering. If topical medication is being used, it should be applied to clean, dry skin and at least 15 minutes before moisturizer to allow time for absorption.

Excessive sun exposure and environmental humidity generally improve psoriasis skin lesions, so regular visits to the beach are recommended whenever possible.

When the scalp is affected it is important to use appropriate topical medical treatments and combine them with treatment shampoos in a preventive manner.

How to relieve itching and pain?

Itching is a symptom that appears in up to 60% of patients with psoriasis. This itching and subsequent scratching can cause pain and worsening of the lesions.

If the patient feels itching, we recommend:

  • Apply a damp cloth on the psoriasis plaque to moisturize the skin and then apply petroleum jelly.
  • Avoid rubbing or scratching the plaques to avoid worsening the inflammation. Psoriasis skin must be treated with great care.
  • Do not pull off the white scales, it is better to let them fall off by themselves gradually while the skin is recovering.

Can psoriasis affect mood?

Psoriasis is a disease that goes beyond the skin. According to several clinical studies, we know that between 32% and 60% of patients with moderate or severe psoriasis suffer from anxiety or depression. As it affects the most visible organ of the body: the skin, it is frequent the appearance of different psychological alterations such as depression, lack of self-esteem, insecurity, work and social rejection, states of anger and problems to maintain sexual relations.

For all these reasons, dermatologists often advise patients to seek professional help to treat or prevent possible psychological problems associated with psoriasis.

How is psoriasis treated?

We give you answers in the article we have created on psoriasis treatments.

If you still have questions, feel free to share them with everyone in the comments or write to us directly through our contact form.