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,

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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 psoriasis

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.

Guttate psoriasis

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.

Pustular psoriasis

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.

Erythrodermic psoriasis

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.

Psoriatic arthritis

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

Scalp Psoriasis

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

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Avoid long showers, they can further dry out your skin, making it itchier. Use lukewarm water instead.
    5. Manage stress with yoga and other therapeutic activities. Stress is a known trigger of Psoriasis.

Here are few frequently asked questions

No, Scalp psoriasis is an autoimmune disease which causes a build up of cells on the scalp. It’s red, itchy and the scales are white or silver. Whereas, dandruff is a condition in which the skin of the scalp flakes. It’s caused due to too much oil on the scalp. The flakes are yellow or white and can possibly be itchy.
There isn’t a cure for Psoriasis as of yet. Since it’s a chronic condition, there will be times when it’s worse and times when it’s better. There are, however, treatments available for Psoriasis which can help in easing it up.
Treatments include- topical and medical treatment prescribed by a dermatologist. It’s best to get a personalised prescription for yourself, what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another.
Researchers say that a little sunlight , or more precisely, Ultraviolet light can help in prohibiting the rapid growth of skin cells, But caution is necessary, a sun-burn can be a nightmare for someone with Psoriasis.
The simple answer is No. You can’t “get” it from anyone, neither can you “give” it.

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What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a condition of the skin that can happen in various parts of the body including the scalp. It is a chronic inflammatory disorder characterized by raised reddish scaly lesions over the involved region. It can vary from mild disease with few lesions to severe disease involving the entire body. One of the common areas affected is the scalp. Scalp psoriasis can occur alone or with involvement of other areas of the body.

The first and most important thing to understand about scalp psoriasis is that it is not contagious – as a matter of fact, there are studies that show that this condition is caused due to issues related with the immune system. The immune system is overactive and releases various signals that causes the skin cells to grow very fast resulting in the development of psoriatic patches. However, genetic factors also play a role and studies have shown that scalp psoriasis run in families.

What are the Symptoms of Psoriasis?

There are certain symptoms that could help you detect scalp psoriasis, and these include:
• Scaly patches that are bumpy to touch and red in colour
• Scales that are silvery white in colour
• Flaking that is quite similar to dandruff
• Dryness on scalp that is often accompanied by itching
• Isolated patches are seen in psoriasis unlike diffuse scaling which is seen in dandruff
• Sometimes the reddish lesions extend onto the forehead and back of neck

Usually hair loss is not seen in scalp psoriasis but sometimes, there tend to be some itching and picking at the bumps. The stress that is caused to the hair follicles is what leads to the hair loss. However, in most cases, the hair loss is not permanent and the hair does grow back, once the scalp psoriasis has been taken care of.

Scalp psoriasis is usually confused with seborrhoeic dermatitis but a trained trichology physician can easily pick up the diagnosis. Careful evaluation of rest of the body is done to look for any other areas of involvement. The treatment for scalp psoriasis involves topical medications and medicated shampoos.

Scalp lotions containing steroids and salicylic acid are the first line of treatment of scalp psoriasis. Shampoos containing steroid, salicylic acid or coal tar either alone or in combination are given as adjuvants to be used thrice a week. Regular use of emollients is also advised to reduce dryness. If there is involvement of other areas of the body, oral medicines can be considered depending on the extent of involvement.

Medications used to Treat Psoriasis: Some of the other medications that can be tried are:
• Topical retinoids like Tazarotene,
• Topical immunomodulators like tacrolimus
• Topical vit D analogues like Calcipotriene

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