Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease where the skin cells form a mass of scales. These patches of skin are dry, red and itchy. It is an autoimmune disease which usually occurs on the skin of the back, scalp, palms, knees, elbows and around the fingernails and toenails, but some people have the diseased patches of skin all over the body. The patches may also crack, flake and bleed. The condition has no definite cure but the symptoms can be treated and managed.
The following factors are proven to have contributed to cases of Psoriasis:
More than 32% of the cases of psoriasis have been linked to genes. In case of identical twins, if one twin has the disease, the other has a 70% chance of getting it too. There are several genes associated with the disease and most of these genes are related to the immune system. T cells (lymphocytes which affect cell specific immunity) can also cause psoriasis.
Human immuno-deficiency virus adversely affects the immune system and increases susceptibility of all kinds of infections and diseases. HIV-positive individuals have been found to have an increased risk of psoriasis than hiv-negative people.
3. Other diseases
Diseases like strep throat, chronic infections, skin infections and stress may be responsible for the condition. Other factors like obesity, alcoholism, skin dryness and smoking can also lead to psoriasis.
Anti-malarial, anti-inflammatory and blood pressure medicines can cause psoriasis as a side effect. The disease is also an effect of withdrawal from topical steroid creams and other steroid-based medication.
The symptoms of psoriasis may vary from patient to patient. However, if more than two of the following signs are seen, it is likely that psoriasis is the causative condition:
1. A whitish and silvery mass of scales surrounded by red patches of stinging, itchy skin
2. The appearance of blisters or rashes on the dry scaly skin and also along the nails
3. Bumps on the folded skin like back of the knees, armpits etc.
4. Diseased patches of skin can crack, peel and bleed
5. A sharp and localized pain in the joints accompanied by stiffness
6. Soreness in the throat
7. Tiny depressions in the nails or large brown patches under the nails
8. Swelling and tenderness of the limbs
9. Dental plaque
10. Muscle pain due to the swollen bands of connective tissue