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What is Plaque Psoriasis by Katie Walkenhorst

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There are 5 types of psoriasis and the most common is Plaque psoriasis.  Plaque psoriasis is a skin disease. It is not contagious but hereditary. Psoriasis affects the life cycle of skin cells causing rapid buildup of cells on the surface of the skin. The cause of psoriasis is not fully understood but believed to be related to the immune system. More specifically a white blood cell called T-lymphocyte cells or just T-cells over react and cause an expansion of blood vessels under the skin.  As the T-cells create more skin cells they get pushed to the outer layer of the skin causing a plaque like build up. We do not know why these cells malfunction and attack healthy cells but it is widely accepted that both genetic and environment play a large role in the triggers of plaque psoriasis.

What you can expect to notice from these over active T-cells are patches of skin that are red and inflamed. They can also be painful, and can be extremely itchy.  These patches of plaque on the surface of the skin can crack and bleed as well.  The most common areas of the body the plaque builds up is the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back.

There are triggers for psoriasis.  Some triggers can be avoided and others are more difficult.  Because psoriasis is part of the immune system, sickness is a strong trigger.  A common sickness such as strep throat can cause the psoriasis to spread. Injuries to the skin such as cuts, scrapes, even a bug bite can cause psoriasis to spread or develop. Causing heavy impact damage to your body such as hitting your head will also have an effect. Stress has been proven to be one of the top killers of your immune system so it would stand to reason that it would also be one of the top spreaders of psoriasis.  Many people will develop a rash that cannot be cleared up with any over the counter remedy and seek out a doctor’s diagnosis.

Doing things to maintain your stress levels is important not only for your overall health but for the psoriasis as well. Stress is hard to avoid but can be maintained. A good way to maintain stress is exercise, taking time out just for you such as reading a book or taking a walk.  Using extra moisturizers, avoiding hot showers, and anything else that would dry out your skin is good preventative medicine.  Dehydration is also a psoriasis trigger, so try to avoid heavy long term drinking of alcohol and consume at least two to three liters of water a day. There hasn’t been any direct link to what you eat and plaque psoriasis, but there are links to every day diet and a healthy immune system as well as healthier stress levels. Both the immune system and stress levels have been directly linked to psoriasis. This may seem like quite a bit to change if these are not your normal every day habits but, they really are just small thing you can do to ease the burdens that plaque psoriasis can have.

There are three main approaches that doctors use as treatment options.  They are topical treatments, light therapy, and systemic medication. What doctors are hoping to accomplish with these treatments is to disrupt the cycle that causes the over production of skin cells thereby reducing inflammation, and scale buildup on the skin and send the condition into remission. The topical treatments used alone can control mild to moderate psoriasis. For more severe cases of psoriasis systemic or oral medications and/or light therapy are usually combined with a topical ointment. Light therapy is therapy using sun light.  The UV light reacts with the T-cells and they start to die off. This does not mean go take up sun bathing – especially if you are not a regular tanner. Too much sun or UV light can be just as bad if not worse, so make shore that you discuss any kind of tanning regiment with your doctor. Now as far as oral or injectable medications they are saved for those cases that have resisted the other forms of treatment and have not responded to any life style changes you have made. The reason doctors like to wait so long and try all these other things is that oral and injected medications can have some serious side effects.

For most people, just to have a well-balanced diet, keep moisturized and hydrated will go a long way in prevention.  Ask your doctor or dermatologist lots of questions remember it never hurts to ask, and most importantly talk tell them about any change even if you think it is small they might not think so.




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