Plaque Psoriasis: Known Causes and Pervasive Myths
Jul 24, 2019 00:24
Affecting over 100 people around the world, psoriasis is one of the most prevalent chronic skin diseases. Of all the psoriasis patients around the world, 80% cases account for plaque-type psoriasis, which appears as red, scaly rashes on the skin. Its onset is marked by the appearance of small, red bumps which gradually turn silvery or white.
These bumps then coalesce to form larger, elevated patches on the skin. The patches are known to cause a burning sensation and intense itching and usually appear on knees, lower back, scalp, elbows, and scalp.
The cause of plaque psoriasis is unknown, though it is linked with hereditary factors. It is an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system starts attacking healthy cells as if fighting infections and harmful bacteria.
It has been seen that psoriasis is passed down in families, with at least 10% of the world population possessing the genes related to the disease. However, the symptoms are triggered only in 3% of people.
Triggers can be anything that spurs your immune system into action. It may be a bad sunburn or injury or even high levels of stress. It can even be due to some medication or infection, like strep. But while triggers are completely a matter of chance, it is important to know that psoriasis is not contagious and does not spread via personal contact and is not a result of poor personal hygiene or diet. It is not a sexually transmitted disease either.
Myths Related To Psoriasis
Be it plaque or guttate psoriasis, there are a number of myths related to this autoimmune disease which make the lives of the patients harder. The stigma can be quite debilitating for patients, who not only have to manage the symptoms but also deal with both the physical and psychological effects of the diseases. Here are a few myths that need to be debunked:
1. It is a result of poor hygiene
Due to the presence of scaly skin and red, inflamed patches, psoriasis, especially plaque psoriasis, is wrongly thought to be a result of poor personal hygiene. As it is a hereditary disease, the person affected has no control over its onset and severity.
2. It is contagious
As the disease progresses, the skin usually hardens and turns scaly, making it more prone to cracking. This also leads to bleeding, which many people consider as a sign of infection. Especially in case of plaque psoriasis, which leads to colored patches that seem like microbe infection. Some people consider it contagious and tend to shy away from physical contact. However, this is a myth. You cannot contract psoriasis by touching a person or sharing personal effects.
3. There is no treatment
On the contrary, there are a number of treatments available for Psoriasis. As no one treatment is a sure shot way, there are options that your doctor can recommend depending on the form and severity of the disease. The aim of the treatment is to reduce the frequency of flare-ups and help with the inflammation.
4. It is curable
Another myth associated with psoriasis is that it can “go away”. As it is triggered by the body itself, there is no known cure for psoriasis. However, with proper treatment, in some cases, it is possible to maintain clear skin without any inflammation or scaling. This does not mean that it has been “cured” by any means. It is just the part of the psoriasis cycle.
5. It is easy to recognize
There are as many as 5 types of psoriasis, with plaque psoriasis the most prevalent one. The raised, red-colored patches of plaque psoriasis are the most easily recognizable symptom, but they are not a characteristic of other types. Each type of psoriasis looks different. Some even require a biopsy.
For example, a form of psoriasis does not necessarily affect the skin and can lead to pitted and thickened nails.
Plaque psoriasis is usually quite persistent and takes years to dissipate even with treatment. The treatment ranges from home remedies (aloe, tar, Epsom salt) to prescription-based therapies. However, the aim of all treatments is to provide relief to the patient dealing with the life long struggle of psoriasis.
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