When it comes to protecting your skin, you need to know what symptoms are related to what condition. And sometimes it’s not that simple.
If you have a rash, for instance, is it an allergic reaction, impetigo, eczema, or psoriasis? Psoriasis, in particular, has symptoms that are similar to those of other conditions, but it’s in fact an autoimmune condition that can do more than just affect your skin.
While not as common as other skin conditions like acne, psoriasis affects 125 million people worldwide, including about 8 million Americans.
With three New York City locations, anyone looking for relief from skin conditions like psoriasis can find it with Dr. Javier Zelaya and the caring, expert team at Skinworks Dermatology. We offer medical and cosmetic skin care for patients of all ages who want clear, healthy skin.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a condition that affects your skin as a result of an autoimmune response in your body that causes large amounts of skin cells to build quickly. This means your immune system, designed to fend off bacteria and viruses, is basically attacking you and damaging healthy cells.
Normal skin cell growth starts deep in the skin, rises to the surface, and falls off, a process that generally takes about a month. Psoriasis accelerates this timeline, so it happens in a matter of days, causing large amounts of skin cells to build up but not fall off. The result is dry, scaly skin.
There are five types of psoriasis, with plaque psoriasis being the most common, affecting 80% of people with the condition. Plaque psoriasis is often found on your elbows, knees, and scalp. Other types affect your hands, feet, neck, and face, but can develop anywhere on your body.
What causes psoriasis?
The root causes of psoriasis aren’t completely understood, but are believed to be linked to genetic and environmental factors. Psoriasis flare-ups can be triggered by:
- Infections (skin infections, strep throat)
- Cold weather or other dry conditions
- Skin injuries (cuts, scrapes, bites, sunburn)
- Heavy consumption of alcohol
- Certain medications (lithium, antimalarial drugs)
- Rapid withdrawal from corticosteroids
A family history of psoriasis can increase your risk of the condition. Psoriasis, in turn, increases your risk of conditions such as psoriatic arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and other autoimmune conditions.
What signs should you look for?
To determine whether you’re dealing with psoriasis, look for these five signs:
- Inflamed patches of raised skin in shades of red, brown, or purple
- Whitish-silver or gray scales or plaques on the inflamed patches
- Dry skin prone to cracking and bleeding
- Soreness, itching, and burning around patches
- Swollen, painful joints
These and other symptoms cycle, meaning you experience them for a few days or weeks, and then they subside almost completely until the next flare-up. The symptoms are only in remission; psoriasis currently has no cure.
Treatments are available in the form of topical creams, medications, and light therapy. Moderate to severe conditions may require multiple types of treatment, but regardless of how bad your psoriasis is, we can help.
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of psoriasis, call the Skinworks Dermatology office in Maspeth, Chelsea, or Park Slope, or make your appointment online today.