Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition, which has episodes of active disease, which can recur over time. The life cycle of the cells on the skin becomes fast, and so the cells that are multiplying rapidly, without shedding, start piling up and creating patches on the skin. These patches are red, scaly, and itchy.
The main cause of psoriasis is thought to be of autoimmune origin. This means that the immune system of the body, that is normally there to attack diseased cells, starts attacking the normal skin cells, and leads to their overproduction. Other cells of the immune system also come to this region and cause the inflammation which leads to the formation of vesicles and pustules.
The symptoms most often associated with psoriasis can be listed as follows:
- Red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
- Swollen and stiff joints
The diagnosis is made on the basis of physical examination, however, to confirm the diagnosis, a skin biopsy is needed.
The treatment of psoriasis can be separated into the following categories:
- Topical treatment – Corticosteroids, Vitamin D analogues, anthralin, topical retinoids, salicylic acid, calcineurin inhibitors
- Light therapy – sunlight, UV B phototherapy, Psoralen plus UVA (PUVA)
- Oral or injected medicines – Methotrexate, Retinoids, Cyclosporine