Plaque psoriasis – An overview

Plaque psoriasis – An overview

Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis characterized by thick, scaly patches on the skin. These patches could appear anywhere but mainly affect the knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp. They are itchy and, in some cases, painful. Unfortunately, plaque psoriasis has no cure. One can, however, control the symptoms and reduce the frequency of flare-ups. Read on to learn about the condition’s causes, symptoms, treatments, and home remedies.

The exact cause of plaque psoriasis remains unknown; however, these factors can increase one’s risk:

Genetic factors
Doctors believe there is a link between plaque psoriasis and a particular genetic mutation. The condition often runs in families. Children whose parents have plaque psoriasis have a 50% chance of infection.

Autoimmune factors
Sometimes, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, causing them to multiply faster. This results in the build-up or accumulation of cells, leading to scaly patches.

Certain health conditions
Health conditions like diabetes, fatty liver disease, strep, and Crohn’s disease that cause inflammation have been noticed in people with psoriasis. Even treatments for specific diseases sometimes trigger the problem.

The other risk factors include stress, overexposure to harmful sun rays, and skin injuries.

The common symptoms of the condition include:

Dry, cracked skin
As mentioned, plaque psoriasis leads to thick, scaly patches on the skin. These appear dry and sometimes split open, leading to deep cracks or fissures. The cracks could bleed in severe cases.

When the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, it leads to inflammation. The inflammation, in turn, leads to itching. Scratching the itchy portions of skin can worsen plaque psoriasis.

Skin infections
Excessive scratching could break the patches or result in an infection. The signs of an infection are fever, soreness, swelling or redness of the skin, and discoloration.

Although the disease cannot be cured, treatment reduces the incidence of flare-ups and their severity.

Topical options
Doctors prescribe creams or lotions to reduce inflammation and slow down the growth of new skin cells. These usually contain corticosteroids and vitamins A and D. Some topical treatments need to be applied after a shower or bath to keep the skin moist.

Light therapy
Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, uses ultraviolet light to reduce the size and itchiness of plaques. It’s recommended when other treatments are ineffective. The side effects include blisters, premature skin aging, and increased skin cancer risk.

Systemic treatments
For severe cases, systemic treatments are recommended. Although these work on the immune system to reduce the growth of skin cells, they can cause severe side effects, such as depression, liver issues, and aggressive thoughts.

Biologics (administered intravenously) target the immune system to block the functioning of specific proteins that cause inflammation. However, they affect the immune system’s ability to fight infections.

Home remedies
A few home remedies to try for this condition are:

Skin care
Patients should use a mild soap and good moisturizer to keep the plaques or patches soft and less itchy. Adding colloidal oatmeal or Epsom salts to the bath helps soothe the skin. If psoriasis has spread to the scalp, one could use a clinical shampoo.

Stress management
Many are unaware that stress can trigger plaque psoriasis. One way to manage stress is to practice calming techniques, such as yoga and meditation.

Be aware of the weather
One must moisturize more when the weather is cold and dry as such conditions could make the skin dry. When going out in the sun, it’s advisable to apply sunscreen to plaque-free areas.

Nutrition plan
As a long-term or lifelong condition, plaque psoriasis can be managed more effectively by avoiding trigger foods and eating those that boost skin health:

What to eat
A meal plan rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce inflammation, soothing the skin. Healthy options include fruits (cherries, grapes), leafy greens (kale, spinach), and fatty fish (sardines, cod, trout).

What to avoid
Foods that can worsen the condition or cause flare-ups include red and processed meat (beef, sausage, bacon), gluten (wheat, rye, barley), and high-calorie foods that can increase weight.

Plaque psoriasis can affect one emotionally and psychologically too. It’s, therefore, important to talk to a doctor to manage the disease well.