Plaque Psoriasis – What It Is And How To Treat It
Of all the forms of psoriasis known to man, plaque psoriasis is amongst the most commonly occurring ones. The medical community believes that 9 out of every 10 people suffering from psoriasis are affected with plaque psoriasis.
This form of psoriasis usually shows its first appearance in young adults, and people from the age of 16 to 22 are most likely to be affected. It has also been found that females are more prone to catching the disease than their male counterparts. However, if the symptoms are detected earlier, or you are suffering from chronic plaque psoriasis and it is in its initial phase, application of topical agents may help treat it. However, if the condition becomes severe or intense such that topical agents fail, you may use systematic agents or phototherapy to counter the disease and prevent its outbreak in other areas of your body. These have proven to work very well even in severe cases, and their results include complete clearing of the disease.
When skin cells are produced rapidly, the process forces these cells, which are still not mature, to surface the skin. These cells get accumulated on the surface and eventually form thick plaques. And although this condition does not ideally cause itching, it is not very rare for a patient to experience cracking, itching and painful skin. These plaques become silver white in appearance, and the inflamed skin lying underneath takes a red color. The burning sensation on the skin can be largely felt when the surrounding skin or clothing comes in contact with the affected areas.
Health experts have concluded that certain hereditary factors, in some cases, can also cause plaque psoriasis. However, the condition may also get triggered due to the presence of environmental factors which include exposure to the skin, intake of alcohol, cigarette smoking and the presence of pre-existing immune conditions.
Plaque psoriasis ranges widely when it comes to its severity, and people may suffer from the asymptomatic form to a very severe form of the condition. Moreover, this is a chronic condition, implying that the symptoms are never permanently cleared from the body. The outbreaks may also cyclically, and these may last from a few weeks to even a couple of months.
Typical skin characteristics caused by plaque psoriasis
To begin with, you will notice that the areas with plaque developed on them are relatively elevated than the rest. The plaque may have formed affecting the skin in different sizes. While there may be areas on your skin which are only slightly affected, there may be other areas where the plaque has extensively formed. Shape of the skin irritation is typically undetermined, and it may be oval in the most typical cases. If plaque has formed on areas which involve palms, feet or joints, they could very easily lead to splitting, cracking and even bleeding in those areas. It has also been noticed that plaques form an area around them which resembles a ring, or more like a halo.
Outbreaks of plaque psoriasis which involve fissures are ideally more painful. Fissures denote cracks or splits in the skin, and they usually occur in areas which involve bending of the skin. This happens in areas surrounding the knees and elbows. In these cases, the skin bleeds and the patient runs a higher risk of catching an infection.
In some other cases, the pigment in the affected area consists of a red colored fluid called salmon colored. Interestingly, when psoriasis occurs on the leg, there is an attached blue hint to it.
Plaque psoriasis does not require intensive diagnostic procedures for detection. Your dermatologist or doctor may determine its existence by simple visual inspection.
Treatment of plaque psoriasis
The treatment of the condition is largely dependent on the severity of the condition. While topical creams are all which may be required to treat plaque psoriasis in its mild stage, severe cases may require adherence to a stricter healing regime. This, in most cases, includes a specific psoriasis diet and regular exercises, combined with the intake of relatively stronger medications. The treatment of the condition in more severe cases typically involves the use of phototherapy, injections, body-wide treatments and also the use of strong topical creams. Additionally, mild cases can also be treated using oils and shampoos.
Topical applications entail a wide variety of products, and these may include anything from corticosteroids to moisturizers. Stubborn patches and plaques are best treated by the use of topical medications.
Topical coal tar applications are widely used in the treatment of plaque psoriasis, and these mainly target the condition on the face, scalp and some other body parts. Although the results have proven to be beneficial, a major issue is the stains caused by the preparation, and also its smell. This is precisely why most sufferers prefer using the application at night. The affected areas are covered using socks and other old clothing. The coal tar can be washed off in the morning. For those who prefer to use a shampoo made from coal tar, it is suggested that you apply the shampoo and leave it on for about 10 minutes. You may then want to use your usual shampoo so that it covers up the smell caused due to the application of coal tar.
Topical steroid creams form another treatment method for those suffering from plaque psoriasis. Most doctors recommend the use of strong gels and ointments, and these should be applied during daytime to minimize inflammation. Although these are simple and safe to use, they are known to cause body-wide effects if used in high potencies or on much damaged skin.
Calcipotriol creams are yet another treatment suggested by doctors. Calcipotriol is, in fact, a vitamin D3 derivative. Similar to this treatment is the use of topical tacalcitol. Both these topical creams may seem slightly irritating during the initial use; however, they are quite effective in reducing inflammation. Accutane and some other retinoids, which are mainly vitamin A derivatives, often find their use in treatments involving light therapy.
UV light is largely used in the treatment of psoriasis and its many forms. An effective way of treatment is to expose your skin to the light for a brief time period. Now, prolonged exposure to sunlight can be very harmful, and it is strongly advised that you consult your doctor on how to use this method of treatment effectively. Light therapy also includes UVB phototherapy, photo chemotherapy and narrow-band UVB therapy.
Systematic (or body-wide) treatments make use of immunosuppressant drugs. These are associated with some serious side effects, and therefore are only used in the treatment of severe cases of plaque psoriasis.
Treatment of plaque psoriasis: The remedies
The symptoms associated with plaque psoriasis are quite bothersome, to say the least. However, if you suffer from the condition, there are a few steps you can take at home to ease the situation. Primarily, baths are beneficial, and especially if you add Epsom salt or oatmeal to it. This helps in the treatment of your skin. Additionally, it is always a good idea to use lukewarm water (not cold or hot), and refrain from using soaps containing any irritating material. Once you are done with taking bath, apply a rich moisturizer while your skin is still damp to retain the moisture. Applying a moisturizer at night before you get into bed is also a good idea. Over-the-counter creams which contain salicylic acid or hydrocortisone also help in suppressing inflammation and itching.
This is immensely beneficial for minimizing scaling and inflammation, and gives immediate relief. The dead skin which usually accumulates dissolves in salicylic acid. In addition to the functions mentioned, salicylic acid acts as an excellent disinfectant and antiseptic. When infected, your skin can become extremely itchy, thus aggravating your medical condition.
Health experts believe that about 3% salicylic acid is appropriate for the treatment of plaque psoriasis. Further skin irritations can be inhibited by using low strength salicylic acid. There are numerous ointments which use this acid, and you should always check on the strength of salicylic acid used in these creams before applying them.
Changing over to a healthy diet plan can also significantly help in the treatment of plaque psoriasis. In fact, your doctor will tell you that there are certain diet plans that are recommended for the treatment of this form of psoriasis. A very important thing, however, is that once you choose to change your diet, you must always stick to it. Any sudden lapse in it could lead to a potential flare up, which could also be a severe instance of psoriasis. Consumption of healthy foods offers a positive effect for your entire body, not just for your skin. Additionally, a healthy body will be more capable of fighting against foreign organisms, thus ensuring you stay fit at all times.
Caffeine and alcohol are two very important aspects that prevent the treatment of plaque psoriasis. Needless to say, refraining from the consumption of these two will considerably benefit your treatment of plaque psoriasis. Moreover, it is also recommended that you stay away from foods that cause allergies.
Although there are numerous other remedies for the treatment of plaque psoriasis, doctors and dermatologists largely recommend skin moisture as the simplest as well as safest form of treatment. Proper amount of moisture given to your skin will help it in the removal of scales on your skin, and at the same time also keeps it soft. There are more than a few moisturizing lotions available over-the-counter that work to effectively build up moisture on the skin. In addition, there are some other lotions that work by forming a protective barrier that prevents the skin from losing any moisture.
Plaque psoriasis leads to thick growth of plaque, which is also red in color, on the skin’s surface. Adequate amount of moisture effectively prevents this. Lotions, however, are not the only method of treatment. You may also use body oils, to add moisture to your skin. These oils also work to lock moisture in the skin.
Conclusively, plaque psoriasis is classified as a chronic condition. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you undertake strong measures to reduce inflammation and boost your overall health. Health experts advocate a low stress lifestyle, proper diet, regular exercise and nutritional supplements to prevent plaque psoriasis.