Psoriasis – 2% of the World’s Population Affected!

by Richard H Ealom

INTRODUCTION: Psoriasis [pronounced sore-EYE-ah-sis] is a noncontagious, lifelong skin disease and affects both sexes equally and can occur at any age, although it most commonly appears for the first time between the ages of 15 and 35 years. It is probably one of the longest known illnesses of humans and simultaneously one of the most misunderstood and is usually graded as mild (affecting less than 3% of the body), moderate (affecting 3-10% of the body) or severe.

It can also produce inflammation of the joints, which is called psoriatic arthritis and has been shown to affect health-related quality of life to an extent liken to the effects of other chronic diseases such as depression, myocardial infarction, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure or type 2 diabetes.

While it does get worse with time; It is not possible to predict who will go on to develop extensive psoriasis or those in whom the disease may seem to vanish. Research continues to accelerate at a rapid pace and will continue to increase our knowledge of what causes this condition.

SYMPTOMS: Research shows that the signs and symptoms of psoriasis usually appear between 15 and 35 years of age and often disappear (go into remission), even without treatment, and then return (flare up). Controlling the signs and symptoms typically requires life long therapy. Symptoms can vary from person to person but may include one or more of the following: Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales, Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children,), Dry, cracked skin that may bleed, Itching, burning or soreness, Thickened, pitted or ridged nails, Swollen and stiff joints. Additional symptoms may include: Genital lesions in males, Joint pain or aching (psoriatic arthritis), Nail changes, including yellow-brown spots, dents (pits) on the nail surface, and separation of the nail from the base. About 10 percent of people with psoriasis have joint inflammation that produces symptoms of arthritis.

A large number of people report a lessening in illness severity during the summer months or times of increased sun exposure; however, a small segment find that their symptoms are aggravated by strong sunlight, and these individuals actually experience a worsening of their problem in the summer. See your physician if you have symptoms or if the skin inflammation continues despite treatment.

TREATMENT: There are many treatments available that work wonders for one victim but have no effect or benefit for another. They range from local (cortisone cream application, emollients, coal tar, anthralin preparations, and sun exposure)to systemic (internal medications, including methotrexate and cyclosporine). As a first step, medicated ointments or creams, called topical treatments, are applied to the skin. Treatments for more general or advanced psoriasis include UV-A light, psoralen plus UV-A light (PUVA), retinoids (eg, isotretinoin [Accutane], acitretin [Soriatane]), infliximab (Remicade), etanercept (Enbrel), and alefacept (Amevive).

THE NATIONAL PSORIASIS FOUNDATION: Is an excellent organization that provides support to patients with psoriasis. The Foundation reports that 56 million work hours are lost each year by those who have the disease. Additionally, a survey conducted by the Foundation in 2002 indicates that 26% of people living with moderate to severe psoriasis have been forced to change or discontinue their normal daily activities. The Foundation estimates that between 10% to 30% of The affected people also have psoriatic arthritis. Internationally, plaque psoriasis is universal in its occurrence and varies with race, geography, and environmental factors (eg, sun exposure).

CONCLUSION: Psoriasis is a skin disease that produces itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales and is a chronic, meaning lifelong, problem because there is currently no cure. It may be one of the oldest recorded skin diseases and can last a long time, even a lifetime. It is known to affect approximately 2% of the world’s population and is rare among those with dark skin. Psoriasis has been known about for at least 5,000 years and if any particular nutrient had been proved to be beneficial certainly we would all have heard about it by now.

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