Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes redness and irritation to the skin, often resulting in flaky, scale-like silver-white patches on the skin. It most commonly shows up for the first time in individuals between the ages of 15 and 35, though it can be seen at anytime. The area of skin affected by psoriasis rash is usually the knees and elbows, but it can be found anywhere on the body, including the torso and the scalp. Psoriasis sufferers may also experience other symptoms along with the rash, such as aches or joint pain, changes in nail appearance or color, and severe dandruff.
No one is quite sure exactly what causes psoriasis, but it does seem to be hereditary. What doctors do know is that skin cells grow too rapidly in those who suffer from psoriasis, causing dead skin cells to build up, which results in the psoriasis rash. There are some known triggers that can cause the rash to flare up or make symptoms more difficult to treat. The most common triggers are medications, sunlight, stress, alcohol consumption, skin injury, dry skin, or bacterial infections. Additionally, those with weakened immune systems, such as those with AIDS or other autoimmune disorders, tend to have more severe cases of psoriasis.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but several treatment options exist that can reduce or, sometimes, even eliminate symptoms of psoriasis. Treatment is also directed at preventing infection of the affected skin. The most common psoriasis treatment involves topical treatments, commonly a lotion or cream, applied directly to the rash. These creams may contain cortisone, anthralin, salicylic or lactic acid, vitamins, and moisturizers to help relieve symptoms of the psoriasis rash.
While topical treatments work well for psoriasis flare ups, severe psoriasis often calls for stronger treatment. In these cases, doctors will prescribe what is known as systemic treatment, meaning treatments that affect the whole body, unlike topical creams and lotions. Systemic treatment is usually directed at suppressing faulty immune system responses. Phototherapy is another option that has shown some success in the treatment of psoriasis.
For those who cannot or do not wish to use prescription medications for the treatment of psoriasis, there are several popular home remedies that may help relieve symptoms of psoriasis. Home treatment options include exposure to sunlight (though care should be taken, as too much exposure to the sun can actually trigger psoriasis), relaxation exercises, and oatmeal baths, apple-cider vinegar, or Epsom salts to treat and soothe rash symptoms.