PSORIASIS is a chronic, non-contagious disorder which affects the skin and joints, characterized by flaking, redness and inflammation of the skin. Once thought to be a skin disorder, psoriasis is now understood to be a condition originating in the immune system.
The scaly patches caused by psoriasis, called psoriatic plaques, are areas of inflammation and excessive skin production. Skin rapidly accumulates at these sites and takes on a silvery-white appearance. Plaques frequently occur on the skin of the elbows and knees, but can affect any area including the scalp and genitals. In contrast to eczema, psoriasis is more likely to be found on the extensor aspect of the joint.
The disorder is a chronic recurring condition which varies in severity from minor localized patches to complete body coverage. Fingernails and toenails are frequently affected (psoriatic nail dystrophy) - and can be seen as an isolated finding. Psoriasis can also cause inflammation of the joints, which is known as psoriatic arthritis. Ten to fifteen percent of people with psoriasis have psoriatic arthritis.
The cause of psoriasis starts with the immune system. T cells, a type of white blood cell, usually protect the body against infection and disease by attacking bacteria and viruses. However, when you have psoriasis, your T cells mistakenly attack your skin cells instead. Your body then produces other immune system responses, leading to swelling and rapid production of skin cells. Psoriasis tends to run in families and it usually appears between the ages of 10 and 45.
Psoriasis is an inherited disease. However there are certain triggering factors such as injury to the skin, vaccinations and certain medications that have been responsible for the development of this condition. It usually takes about a month for new cells to move from the lower layers of the skin to the surface. In psoriasis, this process takes only a few days, resulting in a build up of dead skin cells and formation of thick scales.
Psoriasis occurs more likely in dry skin than oily or well-moisturized skin. Excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, lack of or overexposure to sunlight, stress, cold climate, physical illness, streptococcal or HIV infection, superficial wounds, or taking certain drugs such as lithium, beta-blockers such as propranolol, anti-malarial medications and in general poor health results in flaring up of psoriasis.
The symptoms of psoriasis can manifest in a variety of forms. Different types of psoriasis exhibit different characteristics that may change over time. One form may change to another, or several forms may exist at the same time.
Diagnosis of psoriasis is usually based on the appearance of the skin. There are no special blood tests or diagnostic procedures for psoriasis. Sometimes a skin biopsy, or scraping, may be needed to rule out other disorders and to confirm the diagnosis.
As per Ayurveda, Psoriasis is caused by vitiation of vata and kapha dosha. The vitiated doshas affect the skin and blood tissues. They also influence water element of the affected region on skin. Thus the skin which is influenced by affected doshas becomes discolored (white or copper colored), scaly and thin.
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