Psoriasis: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a common non-contagious skin disease. Psoriasis causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin, forming thick silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that are sometimes painful. It is a lifelong condition. It can start at any age, but most often develops in adults under 35 years old. It affects almost all parts of a body.
There are five types of psoriasis plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular, and erythrodermic. Many people have only one form of psoriasis at a time, although two different types can occur together. One type may change into another type or may become more severe. Plaque is the most common type.

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  I am using Cortisone creams for years, but they seem to be less effective now. Why is this happening?
With continued use, a resistance develops to the therapeutic effects of cortisone creams. When this occurs, the creams become progressively less effective and stronger formulations are needed to achieve comparable results. Combination therapy, using cortisone creams with other topical therapies, can help minimize the side effects of long-term cortisone use, such as thinning of the skin, or reduction in effectiveness.

Q2.  I recently started new blood pressure pills. Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with psoriasis. Is there any connection?
  • There are several known medications that can trigger psoriasis. Two classes of blood pressure medications beta-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) have been associated with the development of psoriasis and exacerbation of existing disease. 
  • Beta-blocker eye drops, such as those used to treat glaucoma, can cause psoriasis to occur in predisposed individuals as well. 
  • Lithium, a drug used mainly for bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depressive disorder), is another known inducer and exacerbator of psoriasis.
  • If you are taking any of these medications, you should discuss this with your doctor, who may be able to switch you to an effective alternative drug.

Q3.  Is risk for skin infections higher in people with psoriasis than in people with normal skin?
  • No. Risk for secondary infections may increase with hard scratching as this abrades the skin and opens it to bacterial invasion. Hard scratching should be avoided for this reason, and because abrasion of the skin cannot trigger formation of new psoriatic lesions.
  • A skin hygiene program recommended by a dermatologist is usually adequate to keep bacterial populations in check. 
  • Symptoms of secondary infection are redness of skin around a psoriatic lesion or increased redness of the lesion, increased warmth in the skin and/or pus in the skin in the area of a lesion. 

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