August is Psoriasis Awareness Month
Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin.
It typically affects the outside of the elbows, knees or scalp, though it can appear on any location. Some people report that psoriasis is itchy, burns and stings. Psoriasis is associated with other serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and depression.
If you develop a rash that doesn't go away with an over-the-counter medication, you should consider contacting your doctor.
How do I get psoriasis?
While scientists do not know what exactly causes psoriasis, we do know that the immune system and genetics play major roles in its development. Usually, something triggers psoriasis to flare. The skin cells in people with psoriasis grow at an abnormally fast rate, which causes the buildup of psoriasis lesions.
Men and women develop psoriasis at equal rates. Psoriasis also occurs in all racial groups, but at varying rates. About 1.9 percent of African-Americans have psoriasis, compared to 3.6 percent of Caucasians.
Psoriasis often develops between the ages of 15 and 35, but it can develop at any age. About 10 to 15 percent of those with psoriasis get it before age 10. Some infants have psoriasis, although this is considered rare.
Psoriasis is not contagious. It is not something you can "catch" or that others can catch from you. Psoriasis lesions are not infectious.
Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory form of arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis can cause swelling, stiffness and pain in and around the joints, cause nail changes and overall fatigue.
Studies show that delaying treatment for psoriatic arthritis as little as six months can result in permanent joint damage. Early recognition, diagnosis and treatment of psoriatic arthritis are critical to relieve pain and inflammation and help prevent joint damage
What are the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis can develop slowly with mild symptoms, or it can develop quickly and be severe. Early recognition, diagnosis and treatment of psoriatic arthritis can help prevent or limit extensive joint damage that occurs in later stages of the disease. The disease can develop in a joint after an injury and may seem like a cartilage tear.
Here are common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis:
- Generalized fatigue
- Tenderness, pain and swelling over tendons
- Swollen fingers and toes that look like sausages
- Stiffness, pain, throbbing, swelling and tenderness in one or more joints
- A reduced range of motion
- Morning stiffness and tiredness
- Nail changes—for example, the nail separates from the nail bed and/or becomes pitted and mimics fungus infections
- Redness and pain of the eye, such as conjunctivitis
Psoriatic arthritis usually affects the distal joints (those closest to the nail) in fingers or toes.
You may also experience symptoms in your lower back, wrists, knees or ankle.
In 85 percent of patients, psoriasis occurs before joint disease. If you have been diagnosed with psoriasis, it is important to tell your dermatologist if you have any aches and pains.
There is little connection between your psoriasis severity and psoriatic arthritis severity. Having a severe case of psoriasis does not necessarily mean a person will have a severe case of psoriatic arthritis. A person could have few skin lesions, but have many joints affected by the arthritis.
For more information contact the Office of Community Health at (630)483-5665 or email firstname.lastname@example.org