Archive for the ‘Skin Diseases’ Category

What is Psoriasis

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

psoriasis.jpgPsoriasis is a skin condition characterised by red areas on the skin surrounded by silver scaly patches in the affected areas. It is caused by excessive growth of the top layer of the skin (epidermis). The epidermis of a person affected by psoriasis is far more active than that of a normal person the rate of cell reproduction is much greater (about 3 times).The excessive growth of the skin is due to abnormal behavior of white blood cells(T cells), associated with the immune system. When an area of skin is affected by psoriasis, these cells act as though the skin were damaged or cut, and attempt to repair the skin. This is done by producing new skin cells, at a much faster rate than skin that is not damaged. Despite the appearance of severe trauma in the area of skin affected by psoriasis the skin is not damaged and can return to complete normality. The abnormal skin cell re-production results in the skin becoming red and inflamed as blood supply to the area increases. Finally the skin becomes thick and scaly with an excess dead skin which it cannot shed fast enough.

Causes of Psoriasis

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Although its causes are not fully understood, psoriasis is not contagious. Your chances of developing psoriasis can be influenced by a family history of the condition and/or by environmental triggers such as infections, sunburns, or medications. Recent research has identified genes that may lead some people to be more susceptible to psoriasis, but some people who are genetically predisposed may never develop the condition.

Symptoms of Psoriasis

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

ps.jpgThe most common symptoms of psoriasis are thick, red patches known as plaques, and dry, silvery scales. These appear most often on the scalp, face, elbows, knees, palms, and soles of the feet. About half the people who live with psoriasis also see changes in their toenails or fingernails; these may include pitting, discoloration, shape changes, or even loss of the entire nail.

Nearly one quarter of the population with psoriasis also experiences arthritic symptoms in their joints. This could be a distinct condition known as psoriatic arthritis.

Types of Psoriasis

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Psoriasis may seem to be of only one type: the red, scaly, uncomfortable kind. But dermatologists know that there are several types of psoriasis discussed as follows:

Plaque psoriasis : About 80% of those who have psoriasis have this form. It is characterized by raised, inflamed, red lesions covered by a silvery white scale. It is typically found on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back, although it can occur on any area of the skin.

Inverse psoriasis : Inverse psoriasis is found in the armpits, groin, under the breasts, and in other skin folds around the genitals and the buttocks. This type of psoriasis first shows up as lesions that are very red and usually lack the scale associated with plaque psoriasis. It may appear smooth and shiny. Inverse psoriasis is particularly subject to irritation from rubbing and sweating because of its location in skin folds and tender areas. 

Erythrodermic psoriasis : Also known as exfoliative psoriasis, this is a form of psoriasis that covers almost the entire body. It is characterized by severe redness and scaling, which is often accompanied by itching and pain. Because symptoms are so widespread over the body, this form can be extremely serious.

Guttate psoriasis : This often starts in childhood or young adulthood and resembles small, red, individual spots on the skin that are not normally as thick or as crusty as lesions of plaque psoriasis. This form of psoriasis may resolve on its own, occasionally leaving a person free of further outbreaks, or it may clear for a time only to reappear later as patches of plaque psoriasis.

Pustular psoriasis : Primarily seen in adults, pustular psoriasis is characterized by white pustules (blisters of noninfectious pus) surrounded by red skin. It is not an infection, nor is it contagious. It may be localized to certain areas of the body or can be generalized, covering most of the body. It tends to go in a cycle: reddening of the skin followed by formation of pustules and scaling. 

Palmo Plantar Psoriasis : Palmo Plantar Psoriasis or Palmoplantar Pustulosis (“PPP”) is normally found on the palms of the hands and/or the soles of the feet. Unlike plaque psoriasis, there are no red, scaly lesions, rather a mass of weeping, cracked areas which look like tiny, yellowish blisters. These can be very painful and sore and look “infected”, even though there is no actual infection present within the pustules.

Psoriatic arthritis : About 10 percent of the people who have psoriasis will develop a form of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis. This causes inflammation and swelling in the hands, feet or in larger joints such as the knees, hips, elbows and the spine. It may cause stiffness, pain and joint damage.

Nail psoriasis : Psoriasis can affect toenails and fingernails. It usually appears as pits in the nails and the nails may change to a yellowish colour and become thick or crumble easily. They may also be surrounded by inflammation. In some cases the nail may break away from the nail bed.

Scalp psoriasis : Scalp psoriasis affects at least half of all people who have psoriasis. Raised, inflamed lesions covered with silvery white scales will develop on the scalp and particularly along the hair margins.

Treatment of Psoriasis

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

While there is no cure for psoriasis, many treatments are available to help reduce or eliminate the symptoms and rash associated with the disease. Because various forms of psoriasis exist and the disease affects everyone differently, no single treatment works best for everyone. Doctors who specialize in treating skin conditions, known as dermatologists, may need to be consulted to help decide the best treatment.

Goals of treatment for psoriasis include clearing up the present psoriatic rash and preventing new flare-ups of the rash. Finding the most effective therapy with the fewest side effects is paramount. To accomplish these goals, treatments for psoriasis include topical medications, sunlight or artificial UV light therapy (also called phototherapy), and oral or injectable medications. Sometimes a combination of these treatments may be used. Topical medications and sunlight therapy have the least occurrence of side effects and are generally useful for mild forms of psoriasis. Artificial UV light therapy and oral or injectable medications are reserved for more moderate to severe cases of psoriasis and may have a higher occurrence of side effects. The type of psoriasis and the severity of the psoriasis will help the doctor determine the best treatment approach.

What Is Acne?

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

acne.jpgAcne is a skin condition that occurs due to the overproduction of oil by the oil glands of the skin. The oil that normally lubricates the skin gets trapped in blocked oil ducts and results in what we know as pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads on the surface of skin. Sometimes it also includes deeper skin lesions that are called cysts.

  • Pimples are small skin swellings that sometimes contain pus.
  • Blackheads are dark formations on the skin due to an accumulated mixture of oil and cells in a blocked skin pore.
  • Whiteheads are small flesh-or white-colored bumps due to skin pore blockage.
  • Cysts are closed sacs beneath the skin or deeper that contain fluid or semisolid substances.

The areas of the skin that are most susceptible to acne are those areas that contain the largest number of oil glands. For example, it is estimated that there are 2,000 oil glands per square inch on the forehead alone. The face, chest, shoulders, and back are the areas with the highest population of oil glands.

Causes of Acne

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

acne_cause.gifAlmost all teenagers get acne at one time or another. You haven’t done anything to cause your acne. It’s not your fault if you have it. Pimples are caused when oil ducts in the skin get plugged up and then burst, causing redness and swelling. Although there are many myths about acne, the following are the three main factors that cause it.

Hormones: When you begin puberty, certain hormones, called androgens, increase in both males and females. These hormones trigger oil ducts on the face, back and upper chest to begin producing oil. This can cause acne in some people.

Heredity: If other members of your family had acne as teenagers, there may be a chance that you’ve inherited a tendency toward getting acne as well.

Plugged oil ducts: If you are prone to acne, the cells that line the oil ducts in your skin tend to get larger and produce more oil, and the ducts get plugged. This traps the oil and leads to the formation of blackheads or whiteheads. The plugged ducts allow germs in the skin to multiply and produce chemicals that cause redness and swelling. This is why simple blackheads and whiteheads may turn red and bumpy and turn into the pimples of acne.

There is not much you can do about heredity, so your best control efforts are those that keep the oil ducts unplugged.

Treatment Options for Acne

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

Acne is often treated by dermatologists (doctors who specialize in skin problems). These doctors treat all kinds of acne, particularly severe cases. Doctors who are general or family practitioners, pediatricians, or internists may treat patients with milder cases of acne.

The goals of treatment are to heal existing lesions, stop new lesions from forming, prevent scarring, and minimize the psychological stress and embarrassment caused by this disease. Drug treatment1 is aimed at reducing several problems that play a part in causing acne:

  • Abnormal clumping of cells in the follicles
  • Increased oil production
  • Bacteria
  • Inflammation

Depending on the extent of the problem, the doctor may recommend one of several over-the-counter (OTC) medicines and/or prescription medicines. Some of these medicines may be topical (applied to the skin), and others may be oral (taken by mouth). The doctor may suggest using more than one topical medicine or combining oral and topical medicines.