The National Psoriasis Foundation has declared August as Psoriasis Action Month. Psoriasis is a disease that causes irritating and uncomfortable patches on the skin. For many, living with psoriasis makes living a quality life challenging. Though it is not a contagious condition, psoriasis can affect all age groups, ethnicities, and genders. The National Psoriasis Foundation works with communities around the nation during August to promote awareness and increase research efforts to stop the spread of psoriasis.
What Causes Psoriasis?
An aggressive rash or stubborn breakout may actually be more serious than it seems. Psoriasis can appear in a variety of forms throughout the skin on the body as an itchy, burning, or stinging skin rash. The most common areas for psoriasis to appear are the elbows, scalp, knees, face, hands, feet, nails, folds of skin, or even genital areas. The causes of psoriasis are still being researched, though it is known that genetics and immune system health are related to the severity of the skin disease. Different varieties of psoriasis are generally triggered by other conditions such as stress, injury, or infection. Negative reactions to medications such as Lithium, Inderal, and Quinidine can also trigger the development of psoriasis.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis can be caused by a combination of over 25 different genetic variants and exposure to specific triggers. Multiple genes can create a predisposition to psoriasis. Studies have shown that 10 percent of the population inherits psoriasis-causing genes. Though only 3 percent of people with the psoriasis-causing genes get the disease, psoriasis affects over 7.5 million people throughout the United States.
Forms of Psoriasis
Psoriasis can appear in five different forms of skin irritation:
- Plaque Psoriasis: This most common form of psoriasis appears on the lower back, scalp, knees, or elbows. Plaque psoriasis takes the form of red patches covered in a white layer of dead skin cells. The red patches are very painful and itchy and often crack and bleed.
- Guttate Psoriasis: This form of psoriasis is most often seen in children and young adults. It appears as small red dots or lesions all over the scalp, limbs, and torso areas of the skin. A tenth of patients with psoriasis have Guttate psoriasis, making it the second most common form of the skin disease.
- Inverse Psoriasis: Inverse psoriasis appears in skin folds on the body such as under the arms or breasts, behind the knees, or surrounding genital areas. This form of psoriasis is referred to as inverse because it appears in the form of smooth, shiny lesions instead of rough and raised bumps. People who sweat excessively or overweight people are more prone to inverse psoriasis, and it is often paired with other types of psoriasis affecting the body simultaneously.
- Pustular Psoriasis: Pustular psoriasis reveals itself as white pustules or blisters surrounded by skin redness and most commonly affects skin on the hands and feet. This form of psoriasis is not infectious or contagious and is mostly seen in adults.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis: Erythrodermic psoriasis is severely painful and very life-threatening. A majority of the skin on the body becomes covered in inflamed, fiery redness, and scales of the skin shed in sheets. Dangerous symptoms such as increased heart rate and unstable body temperature accompany this form of psoriasis, and it can lead to serious illnesses or congestive heart failure. People experiencing these extreme symptoms are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical attention.
Every form of psoriasis comes with its own unique discomforts, symptoms, and treatment requirements. On many occasions, one form of psoriasis clears up and a specific trigger causes another flare of psoriasis to follow. Many patients fighting psoriasis feel like the pain and irritation never ends.
Taking Control of Psoriasis
The National Psoriasis Foundation has been helping to raise awareness about psoriasis for over twenty years. During Psoriasis Action Month in August, the National Psoriasis Foundation encourages people to take action in gaining control over their psoriasis and stop letting their skin disease take control of their lives. Through fundraising efforts and by keeping communities informed about the many symptoms and treatments for psoriasis, more people across the nation can feel less embarrassed about their challenging skin condition and more excited for a clear and healthy future.