Psoriasis is a skin disease that affects approximately 2% of the world’s population.
It is a chronic condition that tends to cycle, with flare-ups lasting weeks or months and then subsiding or even going into remission. Here we review its characteristics and give answers to the most common myths around it.
Myth 1: It only makes the skin dry
TRUE: The main symptom of psoriasis is the formation of irritated, reddish and scaly patches of skin, mainly on the elbows, knees or torso. This occurs due to accelerated changes in the structure of the skin, which instead of happening every 28 days as normal, happens every 4 or 5 days. In that short period of time, the skin cells fail to mature, so they accumulate in thick scales.
However, psoriasis is more than just dry skin. The blood vessels can change and come closer to the surface, causing itching, increasing the risk of bleeding and redness. This situation can also make it difficult to perform daily activities, such as walking, sitting or going to the bathroom, especially when the groin or buttocks area is affected.
Myth 2: It is an exclusively skin disease
TRUE: It is true that the main symptom of psoriasis is dry skin, however, its effects can be more than cutaneous. For example, it is estimated that between 5% and 35% of people with psoriasis may also develop psoriatic arthritis, which affects the joints of the knees, hands, feet, or lower back.
Psoriasis can also have effects on self-esteem, since, as has been recorded, those who suffer from it are more likely to experience anxiety, depression and low confidence.
Myth 3: There is only one type of psoriasis
TRUE: It is common for psoriasis to be treated as a single condition, but this is incorrect. There are many types:
- plaque psoriasis: This is the most common form and produces dry, raised, reddish patches on the skin, covered in silvery scales, which may be itchy or tender. They usually appear on the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp.
- Guttate psoriasis: Causes small, scaly, teardrop-shaped lesions on the torso, arms, or legs. It is usually triggered by a bacterial infection.
- nail psoriasis: It can affect the nails (of both the hands and the feet) causing pitting, abnormal growth and changes in color. Nails can become loose and separate from the nail bed, and in severe cases chip.
- inverse psoriasis: Causes smooth patches of red skin that are made worse by friction and sweating. It mainly affects the skin folds of the groin, buttocks and breasts.
- pustular psoriasis: Causes pus-filled lesions that occur in widespread patches on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: It is the least frequent type, it can cover the entire body with a severe red and scaly rash, causing intense itching or burning.
- Psoriasic arthritisCauses inflammation and pain in the joints.
Myth 4: It is a contagious disease
TRUE: Due to the visible effects that psoriasis causes, it is common to believe that it is a contagious disease, however, this is just a myth. The researchers explain that it cannot be contracted through person-to-person contact or by sharing body fluids, since it is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system responds inappropriately and produces too many skin cells.
Myth 5: Infections are responsible for psoriasis flare-ups
TRUE: It is common to believe that the only reason psoriasis outbreaks occur are infections, mainly skin infections. However, the list of possible culprits is more extensive:
- Climate: especially the cold and dry.
- skin lesions: such as cuts, scrapes, insect bites, or sunburn.
- Smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke.
- Consume alcohol in excess.
- take certain medications: such as lithium, antihypertensive or antimalarials.
Myth 6: It only affects adults
TRUE: Although the age group most affected by psoriasis includes those in their late teens to early 30s, or those in their 50s and 60s, this disease can occur in people of all ages. Professionals say that it can be seen in children and there have even been cases in babies.
Myth 7: It is a sign of poor hygiene
TRUE: This is not true, psoriasis does not mean that the patient’s hygiene is bad, according to the specialists, it is quite the opposite. This is because people with psoriasis need to be very careful about hygiene, as the skin is so sore and scaly that it needs constant care.
Myth 8: Psoriasis can be cured
TRUE: In recent years, countless products or natural remedies have been spread (mainly through the Internet) that claim to be effective in curing psoriasis. Experts say this is nothing more than false advertising, as although this condition can be controlled and treated, there is no cure to date.
Myth 9: Making dietary changes helps prevent psoriasis
TRUE: There is no scientific evidence to show that a healthy diet prevents psoriasis. However, certain factors, such as obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, or smoking can increase the severity of your symptoms.
Therefore, following a healthy diet, as well as exercising regularly, maintaining the recommended weight, and sleeping the corresponding hours, can be beneficial for those who are going through a psoriasis outbreak.
Myth 10: There is no treatment for psoriasis
TRUE: While it is true that there is no cure for psoriasis, there are many treatments to relieve its symptoms. The dermatologist will make a diagnosis and knowing your case can recommend creams, ointments, foams or gels.
As psoriasis is treated as a chronic condition, you may also need to work with your doctor on healthy strategies and habits to manage your symptoms, such as keeping your skin moisturized and clean, avoiding disease triggers, and bathing daily (avoiding harsh scrubbing). ).
In more severe cases, other types of treatment may be used, such as ultraviolet light therapy or injections.
Source consulted: US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.