What is Psoriasis?
What is psoriasis? The simplest answer is that it is a disease that affects the skin and leads to sometimes itchy and painful lesions that are followed by scaly skin or pustules under the skin. However, many more facts are important to understand the disease. Psoriasis is more than just a rash, and people who suffer from it should know the facts so that they can choose the best treatment options.
The first thing to understand about psoriasis is that it is an autoimmune disease. It is not contagious, and cannot be caught by contact. If you have psoriasis, it is because you are genetically disposed to having it, and something has triggered it in you. Some common triggers are infections, changes in the weather that can lead to dry skin, sunburn, not enough exposure to the sun, stress and sickness.
How do you know what is psoriasis and what is just a rash?
Unfortunately, as many psoriasis patients can attest, psoriasis is a disease that isn’t easy, at first, to separate from common rashes or allergic reactions. The most common type of psoriasis, plaque psoriasis, begins with red or pink skin that is accompanied by a layer of dead skin scales that flake on the surface. It will not respond to common treatments for rashes and will continue until the triggering event dissipates, or effective treatment is administered.
Psoriasis doesn’t respond to normal rash treatments because it is not a disease that is rooted in the skin’s surface. For an average person, skin cells regenerate deep in the skin, and over the course of about a month, they gradually rise to the surface of the skin replacing dead skin cells. Psoriasis speeds this process up significantly, and causes the skin cells to rise faster, while the surface of the skin becomes covered in scaly skin that dries and falls off quickly.
Even though it does differ from a rash in significant ways, it can be a hard disease to diagnose, and usually requires a medical professional to look at a small skin sample under a microscope to make a definite diagnosis.
Psoriasis affects about three percent of the world’s population, and can arise any time from puberty to middle age in most cases. Different types of psoriasis have different onset ages and different triggers. If a person is suffering from a skin rash with secondary painful symptoms on a regular basis, it is recommended that he or she seeks out professional medical help to determine if he or she is suffering from psoriasis.
Is there anything else that can help to determine what is psoriasis, and what isn’t psoriasis?
There are a few other symptoms of psoriasis that can alert you to the fact that you may have it. Severe dandruff on the scalp is one symptom. On men, lesions may appear on the genitals. Fingernails and toenails can also be harbingers. Nails that become thickened, or that crack or separate from the tissue underneath can be symptomatic. Joint pains or aches can also be associated with it.
In any case, a medical professional should be consulted if painful rashes or lesions are a continuing problem. There are treatment options available once psoriasis is diagnosed. Many of these treatments can help to control outbreaks and prevent more serious infections.