Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes some irritation issues with the skin. It's also so much more than the physical symptoms you probably associate with it.
Did you know that there are several different types of psoriasis? And each person’s experience with the condition is unique, just like we all are. Moreover, psoriasis’s impact is more than skin-deep, with the potential to cause susceptibility to a few other conditions.
Whether you have psoriasis, have a loved one with psoriasis or perhaps you’re just wondering what those raised bumps are all over Kim Kardashian’s body are, you’ve come to the right place. We’re a community that wants to help.
What Exactly is Psoriasis?
7.5 million Americans are affected by psoriasis. And if you do a super quick search, you’ll find that there is an overwhelming amount of information out there about it. So, what exactly is psoriasis, really?
Psoriasis is a common autoimmune disorder that appears on the skin as plaques (red, dry skin). With autoimmune conditions, the immune system — which is responsible for warding off disease and infection — is overactive, attacking harmless cells within the body and causing inflammation. Basically, your skin is fighting itself. It happens.
Normally, your skin cells grow inside the body, slowly rising to the surface, and are then discarded. However, in those with psoriasis, the production of skin cells is much, much faster, which prevents the skin cells from having the time to fall off before other cells reach the surface. This buildup of skin cells is typically on joints but sometimes also on the face, scalp, neck, feet, hands or, less commonly, the nails, mouth and genital area.
Psoriasis is still highly misunderstood but it is commonly associated with several other conditions, such as:
Inflammatory bowel disease
Type 2 diabetes
Types of Psoriasis
Did you know that there is more than just one type of psoriasis? Most people with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis, but there are five types in total:
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis, with roughly 80 percent of people dealing with the condition. It causes inflamed patches that cover areas of the skin. These painful raised patches are often covered with whitish-silver scales or plaques, commonly found on the scalp, knees, hands, and elbows.
If you had psoriasis as a child, chances are you have guttate psoriasis. Usually, those with guttate psoriasis experience a sudden eruption of many small red, scaly spots, typically after strep throat. The most common sites include the arms, legs and torso. These sports are rarely thick or raised like with plaque psoriasis.
Similar to how guttate psoriasis is most common in little ones, pustular psoriasis is most common in adults. It causes painful white, pus-filled blisters on broad areas of the body, such as the hands or feet but it can be widespread. This type of psoriasis can be severe and even life-threatening.
This type of psoriasis causes bright areas of shiny, red, irritated skin. Patches of inverse psoriasis develop under breasts or armpits, in the groin or around skinfolds in the genitals. Commonly mistaken for a fungal or bacterial infection, inverse psoriasis can be pretty painful.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is an extremely rare, severe type of psoriasis. This form often covers large sections of the body all at once, causing the skin to almost appear sunburned. Scales that develop often slough off in large sheets or sections. It’s not too uncommon for someone with this type of psoriasis to run a high fever or become very ill. Erythrodermic psoriasis can be life-threatening, so individuals who believe they have it should see a specialist immediately.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Psoriasis plaques can range from just a few spots of dandruff-like scaling, to massive eruptions that cover large areas. The condition’s appearance and symptoms tend to vary according to the type and severity of psoriasis.
Some of the most common symptoms and signs include:
Plaques of red, inflamed skin, often covered with silver-colored scales. These painful plaques may be itchy and they sometimes crack and bleed. In severe psoriasis cases, the plaques will grow and merge, covering large areas.
Disorders of the fingernails including discoloration and pitting. The nails may also detach or crumble from the nail bed.
Burning or soreness near the affected areas.
Crust or plaques of red scales on the scalp.
Those with psoriasis can also get a type of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis, causing immense swelling and pain in the joints. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, roughly 10-30 percent of people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis. It’s more than okay if this is you.
Keep in mind that not every person with this condition will experience all of these symptoms and some may experience entirely different symptoms. Everyone is different, and psoriasis symptoms will vary from person to person.
How long do symptoms last?
Most individuals with psoriasis go through “cycles” of symptoms. Psoriasis may cause intense symptoms for just a few days or longer and then the symptoms may clear up completely, almost to be undetectable. Then, if made worse by a common psoriasis trigger (more on this below), it may flare up again. Keep scrolling to learn more about what can trigger psoriasis to be active.
When you have no active signs of psoriasis, you might be in “remission.” Now, this doesn’t mean that you beat the condition and it will never return, as there is no cure for psoriasis, but for now, you’re symptom-free.
What Exactly Triggers Psoriasis?
Now that you understand exactly what psoriasis is and what a flare-up looks like, let's talk about some different triggers.
To be clear, again, there is no cure for psoriasis. Doctors are still unclear as to what exactly causes it but thanks to years and years of research, we at least know what brings it on at a given time.
Here are some of the most common triggers of psoriasis:
Stress is a huge trigger, be it physical or emotional. Though it’s obviously pretty impossible to avoid stress completely, it’s best to find ways to manage stress if you find your psoriasis flare-ups tend to happen when you’re feeling especially overwhelmed.
Self-care activities are good for this; think activities like breathing exercises, meditation, therapy and support groups. Try to kick back when you can and show yourself some love.
Things like scrapes, cuts, scratches, sunburns and bug bites can all trigger flare-ups. If these things are common triggers for you, you’ll usually get a flare-up near the injury about two weeks later.
Sipping on some summer bubbly with your faves from time to time is perfectly acceptable and shouldn’t cause a flare-up. However, drinking in large quantities can bring one about.
If you drink alcohol in excess, psoriasis outbreaks may be more frequent. So, slow down on the alcoholic drinks to help keep your skin healthy.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that has no cure. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to get through it. Thankfully, there are incredible products on the market — like the ones found right here at Topicals — that can help immensely to soothe dry, irritated, flaky skin.
Take our Like Butter Hydrating Mask, for instance. This ultra-thick, whipped mask is packed with powerful botanicals for skin so smooth, it’s like butter. Designed to restore dry, flaky skin while fortifying your skin’s moisture barrier, Like Butter is your secret weapon for combating inflamed skin.
Topicals is much more than beauty and much more than skincare. We are the new standard: medicated botanicals. Topicals products are always synthetic-free, fragrance-free, and dye-free, as well as vegan and cruelty-free. We only use high-quality ingredients and herbals that have been scientifically proven to effectively, efficiently and gently work on all skin types.
So, give our Like Butter hydrating mask a try today and give your skin the nourishing healing it needs. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did!