Psoriasis is a common skin problem that makes the cells of the skin to
grow at an alarming pace. This causes the buildup of skin cells on the
surface of the skin and is seen as white, scaly, thick patches, though
sometimes they may be red in colour. It is a chronic disease which means
that it keeps troubling the patient and does not get better on its own.
It commonly aggravates in the cold weather and gets better on its own
in the hot weather. That is precisely why all psoriasis patients dread
the arrival of winters. Psoriasis affects roughly 1-2 % of the
population, which is a large number though there is little awareness
about the disease. In fact, there are a lot of misconceptions
surrounding this disease. The most common misconception is that it is
infectious in nature and that it will spread from one person to another.
The reality is that psoriasis is not infectious and does not spread
even when a person comes in contact with a patient. Therefore one need
not avoid contact with any family member, relative or friend who is
suffering from this problem.
The reality is that psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, in which there
is a manifold increase in the cell division of the cells that line the
outer layer of the skin. This results in a marked increase in the number
of cells as the cell division may grow up to 1000 times the normal
rate. These cells do not get enough time to become mature. Immature
cells keep getting pushed up onto the outer layer of the skin as a large
number of cells keep piling up from below. The immature cells are
silvery white in appearance and look like dandruff. If one removes the
scales by rubbing or scratching, the skin below looks red and raw as the
cells are immature in nature.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
The most troublesome complaint that irritates the patient is the itching
that occurs with psoriasis. At times, the itching is so intense that
the patient feels like scratching and gnawing the skin raw. Moreover,
the itching persists all the time with hardly any relief. The other
thing that troubles the patient much is the cosmetic part that the skin
looks ungainly, more so if it is present at the areas that are often
exposed like arms, hands, face or head. In occasional cases, there may
be involvement of joints, which become swollen, tender and painful. This
is called Psoriatic Arthritis and affects almost 5-10% of the patients.
In such cases, there may also be involvement of the nails of the hands
and feet, which causes the nails to pit or change colour or even get
separated from the nail bed.
The areas that are quite commonly involved in this disease happen to be
those which bear pressure much more than other areas like buttocks,
knees, elbows and the lower spine. Other areas that may be commonly
affected are those which have suffered some injury.