Psoriasis is an immune-related skin disease that causes red, itchy, and scaly patches all throughout the body. It is a common and chronic disease with no cure as of yet. It goes through cycles wherein the patches flare for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a while or going into remission. There are treatments that are available to help you manage symptoms. As there is no cure for this disease, it is recommended to incorporate a lifestyle change and various coping mechanisms to help battle the symptoms.
While scientists do not have a conclusive answer as to what exactly causes psoriasis, they do know that the immune system and genetics play major roles in its development. It is important to note that psoriasis is not contagious. You cannot catch psoriasis from another person. Psoriasis flares up due to triggers. Triggers usually vary from person to person. However, one trigger is common, the weather. Cold weather is widely known to agitate the psoriasis symptoms,
Types of Psoriasis
There are different sub-categories in Psoriasis which appear differently. Regardless of it’s type, Psoriasis remains a non-contagious illness.
Plaque is the most commonly seen type of Psoriasis. It’s indications include thick red patches of skin, with a silver or white scaly layer. These patches can be seen on elbows, knees, lower back & scalp.
Usually first noticeable in one’s childhood or young adulthood, Guttate is the 2nd most common type of Psoriasis. It appears as small, separate and drop-shaped red spots on the skin. Most commonly seen on the torso and limbs but can also appear on the face and scalp.
Flexural or inverse psoriasis
This type of Psoriasis often appears in the skin folds, such as in the armpits, under the breasts or in the groin area. It’s red, shiny and smooth in appearance.
It’s the more severe form of Psoriasis which develops fast in the form of white pustules surrounded by red skin. It may affect isolated areas of the skin like hands or feet or cover the majority of the skin surface.
It’s a rare type of psoriasis that appears like burns. This type needs immediate medical treatment and might require one to be hospitalized. Its widespread, red and scaly and can cover a large part of the body.
It’s a painfully and physically limiting condition that affects a lesser number of people. Since Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, it triggers the body to attack on the joints and the skin in this condition
Commonly seen in people with Plaque Psoriasis, it causes a build up of cells on the scalp leading to thick, scaly, itchy patches on the scalp. It can cause severe itchiness, redness and white flaky scales and it is very noticeable at the hairline.
Main Causes of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is one of the many diseases whose cause is still unclear, but thanks to the decades of research, we have the general idea of what causes it- the Immune System and Genetics.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease (the immune system mistakenly attacks your body). The white blood cells attack the skin cells, causing the skin cell production to overdrive. This leads to the development of skin cells too rapidly and piles up on the skin leading to plaques.
Like many conditions, Psoriasis is also believed to be more likely developed by people who inherit certain genes. However, developing Psoriasis via genes stands a very small chance.
What causes Psoriasis to flare up in winters?
The dry air and low exposure to the UV rays during winters are believed to be the cause of flare-ups. The dry air soaks the moisture from your skin leading to more itchiness and dryness. The ultraviolet rays can hinder the rapid growth of skin cells. Thus it worsens when you spend less time in the sun. Another reason for flare ups can be the woollen sweaters. The itchiness of the fabric makes it 10 times worse for someone who has Psoriasis.
Sickness is prevalent during winters, and any sort of bacterial injection can also lead the symptoms to a flare-up.
Tips for Managing Psoriasis in Cold Weather
- Keeping your skin moist eases redness and itching, and helps heal psoriasis patches. The thicker the cream or ointment, the better it is at locking moisture into your skin. It is recommended to choose fragrance-free products to avoid allergic reactions.
- Ditch the woolen sweaters and puffy jackets. These fabrics tend to aggravate Psoriasis. Instead, wear layers of cotton clothes and then wear a jacket or a sweater over them.
- To get the desired UV lights for Psoriasis, go for light therapy. Talk to your dermatologist before trying this type of therapy, especially if you’re thinking about at-home UVB phototherapy.
- Avoid long showers, they can further dry out your skin, making it itchier. Use lukewarm water instead.
- Manage stress with yoga and other therapeutic activities. Stress is a known trigger of Psoriasis.