Sydney is a contributing health writer and editor who enjoys shedding light on health topics, making information available to anyone who wants it, and ending stigmas or lack of access to care and treatment.
Dr. Aaron Wiegmann
Dr. Wiegmann earned his medical degree (M.D.) from Rush Medical College and completed his General Surgery residency at Rush University Medical Center and Cook County Hospital. He has a Master's Degree (M.S.) in clinical research and has published numerous peer-reviewed articles.
April 16, 2021
Psoriasis is a skin disease that arises due to malfunctioning of the body’s immune system. It affects different parts of the body, and can be classified into different types according to where it affects the body, as well as the effect it causes.
The 7 psoriasis types include:
Regardless of what psoriasis you have, it will be more manageable and comfortable for you if you seek out medical treatment from a doctor. You can make it easy on yourself by using telehealth to get treated. Our partner, PlushCare, is a trusted telehealth company where you can make appointments that are convenient, secure, and affordable.
The common psoriasis type is plaque psoriasis. It accounts for 8 out of 10 cases of psoriasis. Less common are pustular, guttate, and erythrodermic psoriasis, but erythrodermic is significantly more painful and a more severe health condition.
According to the CDC, “Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory type of arthritis that eventually occurs in 10% to 20% of people with psoriasis.” This kind of arthritis is different from more common arthritis types, and it’s thought to mostly be connected to having psoriasis over a long period of time.
It’s important to differentiate between the different psoriasis types, as they vary in severity and treatment methods.
Plaque psoriasis causes red dry patches that are covered with silvery scales. It usually occurs at the knees, elbows, lower back, or scalp. It can present itchiness and tenderness of the affected body parts.
Inverse psoriasis usually occurs around the groins, breasts, or buttocks. It causes smooth red patches in the affected area. The symptom may become worse during sweating.
Guttate psoriasis is more common in children. It typically forms a pattern of scaling lesions around the arms or legs of the affected children.
Nail psoriasis affects the fingernails and toenails. The disease may cause abnormal nail growth, nail pitting, nail discoloration, and separation of the nail from its bed. In a severe case, it may cause nail crumbing.
Erythrodermic psoriasis forms red rashes that may cover the whole body. The rashes are usually itchy, and they can be burning. It can also cause swelling of the feet and ankles. Although it is not as common as other types of psoriasis, it is among the disease’s worst forms.
Pustular psoriasis is also not as common as other types of psoriasis. It typically occurs at the sole of the feet or the palm, where it forms pustules or lesions.
Psoriatic arthritis causes symptoms that are similar to arthritis. The symptoms include joint pains and swelling. It can also cause permanent damage to the joints.
Although psoriasis is inheritable, certain conditions must trigger it before it can develop in an individual. These factors vary from one person to another. Common conditions that can trigger psoriasis include the following:
“Just what causes the immune system to malfunction isn’t entirely clear,” elaborates the Mayo Clinic. “Researchers believe both genetics and environmental factors play a role. The condition is not contagious.”
Even though you cannot permanently cure psoriasis, some treatments can relieve the symptoms and reduce the rate of formation of the skin cells that cause the patches. These treatments can be grouped into three categories. They include:
Creams and ointments are used in treating mild to moderate forms of the skin diseases.
They perform different functions depending on their composition. Most of them help prevent water loss hence keep the body hydrated, and prevent scale and rash formation as well as itching. Some creams add vitamin D to the skin, while some prevent the formation of skin cells from reducing cell build-up. Topical treatment falls into different categories. The popular ones include:
While the use of most creams and ointments is safe, excessive use of some creams may have side effects.
To treat moderate psoriasis that does not respond to cream and ointment treatment, you can visit your medical health provider, who may prescribe some drugs or injection. There are four categories of medications and injections that are commonly used. They are:
Methotrexates work by suppressing the body’s immune system. Doing so reduces the formation of excess cells that build upon the skin to form psoriasis. If methotrexates are used in high dosage, it may lead to liver complications.
Cyclosporine is also an immunosuppressant. Like other immunosuppressive medicines, it can effectively treat psoriasis but expose the body to foreign attacks. Aside from the risk of infection, cyclosporine can also increase the risk of high blood pressure and kidney diseases if taken in a high quantity.
Biologics, or biopharmaceuticals, are drugs obtained from a living organism. They are usually used for severe psoriasis by manipulating the body’s immune system. Biologics are typically taken by injection or IV infusion and are effective in preventing the overactive white blood cells that cause psoriasis.
Retinoids inhibit the rate at which skin cells are produced, stopping the build-up of cells that leads to psoriasis. These drugs must be used continuously to be effective. The drug’s side effects can continue to manifest several months after its use has stopped. A woman that is planning pregnancy within the next three years is advised not to use the drug. The drug can also cause inflammation of the lip and hair loss.
Ultraviolet rays from the natural sun or from an artificial source can be used to treat psoriasis. UV can reduce the rate at which skin cells are being produced and hence prevents psoriasis. In some cases, medication is first administered to increase skin sensitivity to light rays, allowing for a deeper penetration of the light. Excessive phototherapy may lead to skin cancer.
Although there is no cure for psoriasis, you can effectively manage the condition, regardless of the psoriasis type you have. You can get rid of the rashes, scales, and patches and avoid joint swellings and inflammation with various treatments.
The first step is to avoid conditions that can serve as triggers. You should also keep your skin moisturized by taking baths and applying moisturizers. When applying moisturizers, use only creams that are formulated for treating psoriasis.
If creams are not working for you, try medication or injections that suppress the immune system’s activities or those that reduce the production of skin cells. Other options include light therapy, which can eradicate the rashes.
If you have ongoing psoriasis, visit a doctor in person or online for a consultation regarding your options. Visit our partner site, PlushCare, to make an appointment with a board-certified physician.
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