Psoriasis is a common skin condition that is characterized by a patches of skin which are read, scaly and unsightly. The sufferer often also experiences discomfort and pain. Currently dermatologists estimate that 5.5 million Americans experience psoriasis. This condition can affect any age group but the onset that is usually gradual and then diagnosis made between age 15 and 35.
Individuals who suffer from psoriasis will often experience periodic flareups and possible remissions that can last several years. In approximately 10% of the people psoriasis will be accompanied by arthritis.
In the normal growth and development of cells new skin cells will move from the lowest layer of skin to the top layer and approximately 1 month. Once they form the outermost layer they die and scale off in flakes. This process often goes unnoticed because of the low the number of skin cells which are affected. However, in individuals who suffer from psoriasis, this lifecycle speeds up and results in a multitude of dead cells at the skins outer layer which accounts for the patchy, red and flaky areas.
Researchers know that this skin disease is not contagious and while they believe it is an inherited condition influenced by many factors they have not been able to identify the genes that are specifically responsible for psoriasis.
Physicians are often able to diagnose the condition through visual examination of the skin. Less frequently may will recommend a small biopsy which will be examined under a microscope. This microscopic exam is required to make a definitive diagnosis and to distinguish it from other skin disorders.
The examination should show an increased number of dried skin cells but without signs of inflammation or infection. Individuals who suffer from psoriasis may also showed changes in their nails that are strong indicators.
In the early stages of psoriasis, when the disease can be limited to rough patches on the elbows, a definitive diagnosis may be difficult. Other symptoms such as dandruff or what may look like a fungal infection can be hard to recognize as psoriasis. In the early stages individuals can also experience nail pits, but these can also be a sign of other conditions.
The diagnosis of psoriasis through visual examination will be straightforward if the doctor sees thick, red, flaky patches of skin which are characteristic of psoriasis.
Doctors will want to rule out other disorders that can produce symptoms which are similar, such as seborrheic psoriasis which is hard to distinguish from seborrheic dermatitis, generalized erythrodermic psoriasis which can be confused with drug allergic reactions and fungal infections where circulatory problems that can also cause nail changes which are typical of psoriasis.
Currently there is no blood counts or other laboratory tests, except for a biopsy, that are available to establish a definitive diagnosis of psoriasis.
Individuals who suffer from psoriasis have several treatment options and protocols to try in order to give the individuals some relief from pain, discomfort and it’s patchy scan of psoriasis. Many of the current medications have a plethora of side effects but are truly a last resort. Individuals stood in town treatments through the use of other more natural means before ingesting medications which can significantly alter the immune system.
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