Psoriasis: What you need to know

Psoriasis is a common skin condition, affecting 2-3% of people worldwide. But what exactly is psoriasis? It is a condition that actually changes the life cycle of skin cells, causes them to build up and form scales and itchy, dry patches.

The most common type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, and the symptoms are:

  • Plaques of red skin
  • Disorders of the fingernails and toenails
  • Plaques of scales

Psoriasis can also be associated with psoriatic arthritis, which leads to pain and swelling in the joints.

Symptoms of psoriasis often come and go in cycles, and while there are treatments, there is no cure.

There are several treatment options, including:

  • Topical creams
    • Steroid-based creams are the most common, but some doctors recommend salicylic acid, coal-tar ointments and shampoos, prescriptions retinoid or Calcipotriene containing topical ointments
  • Light therapy
  • Oral medications

Because this is a chronic condition with remissions and flare-ups, it is important to know how to prevent and manage flare-ups. Here are some tips:

  • Moisturize
    • Symptoms get worse when your skin is dry, so it is important to keep as moisturized as possible. Thick, oily moisturizers are usually best, like petroleum jelly.
  • Be careful with your skin
    • Never pick at your skin, as you can make your psoriasis worse. Use caution when trimming nails, as cuts can make symptoms flare. Bathing with soothing products can help bring relief.
  • Avoid dry, cold weather
    • Climate can have a big effect on psoriasis. For many, cold weather makes it worse.
  • Use a humidifier
    • Using a humidifier when the air is dry will help keep skin moisturized.

Of course, consult your doctor before starting any kind of treatment.

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