The National Institutes of Health says that as many as 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis. Are you among this number? As with most diseases the more you know about it the better you can manage it instead of it managing you.
Those who receive the diagnosis of psoriasis are generally happy to know that it is not contagious. They are not however happy to learn that it is a lifelong skin disease.
The disease does vary in its manifestation from one person to another regarding severity of symptoms and how the disease responds to treatments. The majority of individuals have mild psoriasis. They are relieved to know that their psoriasis will remain mild as this particular disease is not progressive in nature. Progressive means that it gets worse over time. Psoriasis does not get worse over time it generally stays the same degree of severity as when it is first diagnosed.
Although psoriasis is not contagious there is a hereditary component to the disease.
There are five forms of psoriasis - Erythrodermic, Guttate, Inverse, Plaque, and Pustular.
Fiery red skin characterizes this type of psoriasis. It is also known for the fact that it is inflammatory in nature and covers most of the body's skin surface. The usual symptoms of this type of psoriasis are: reddened skin, pain, itching, and shedding of skin and also swelling around the ankles from fluid retention. Infection is a real possibility which requires immediate treatment.
The severe illness brought on by the psoriasis can be life-threatening if infection, pneumonia and congestive heart failure are uncontrolled by medical measures. Severe cases of erythrodermic require hospitalization.
This type of psoriasis can be severe if treatment is not started immediately. Without treatment the individual can suffer from fluid and protein loss. If this loss happens, it can lead to severe illness.
This type of psoriasis starts during childhood or when the individual is a young adult. The symptoms are small red dots on the skin, called lesions. They usually appear on the trunk of the body, legs and arms. They are usually not thick spots like those in the plaque type of psoriasis. Conditions that can bring on an attack of guttate psoriasis are: having an upper respiratory infection, tonsillitis, stress, skin injury, streptoccocal infection or certain drugs like anti-malaria drug or beta-blockers. Strep throat, common in kids is a trigger for this type of psoriasis.
This form of psoriasis usually appears in the armpits, under the breasts or in the groin area, and also in folds of the skin, the genital region or on the buttocks. The lesions associated with this type of psoriasis are very red but are not scaly. The lesions are smooth and shiny. This psoriasis is easily irritated by rubbing or sweating. Overweight individuals are prone to this type of psoriasis as well as those who have deep folds of skin.
This type of psoriasis is the most common form of the disease. 80% of all those who contract psoriasis have this form of the disease. The symptoms are raised, and inflamed red lesions that are covered by a silvery white scale. The most common areas of the body to find plaque psoriasis is on the elbows, knees, lower back and on the scalp.
This is basically a form of psoriasis that can be found in adult individuals and triggered by pregnancy, by being over-exposed to UV light, or after taking systemic steroids or potent topical steroids. Symptoms of pustule psoriasis are white pustules (blisters) that contain noninfectious pus that are surrounded by red skin. This is not an infection even though the pus contains white blood cells. It is not contagious. This type of psoriasis usually covers the entire body and tends to appear in cycles (reddening of the skin followed by formation of the pustules and then scaling).