Each August the National Psoriasis Foundation sponsors Psoriasis Awareness Month. Did you know psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States? It affects roughly 7.5 million Americans. However, there is a lack of awareness surrounding psoriasis in our society. In light of this matter, we’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about psoriasis.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the body to overdevelop skin cells. This serious health condition typically develops during ages 15 to 35 but may occur at any age. Despite the common misconception, psoriasis is not contagious and instead results from a combination of genetics and triggers (such as stress, cold weather and infections).

Psoriasis may be mild, moderate or severe. 30 percent of sufferers will later develop psoriasis arthritis, a condition that results in inflammation and pain in the joints and tendons.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Psoriasis?

The overdevelopment of skin cells causes itchy, flaky and red skin, most commonly found on the neck, knees, elbows, lower back and scalp. Scaly skin develops over the inflamed areas. Affected areas may also burn and bleed. In some cases, finger and toenails crack and detach from the nail bed.

The symptoms may continue even with the use of over-the-counter topical treatments. While psoriasis may look like eczema, the skin cells are thicker and the skin itself more inflamed. An experienced doctor will be able to distinguish between the two through the use of a microscope.

Dealing with psoriasis can be lonely and embarrassing. Because the disease is widely misunderstood, sufferers may have to combat common misconceptions such as the belief that psoriasis is caused by poor hygiene habits. August provides a chance to set the record straight on the autoimmune disease and call for more medical research.

Are There Treatment Options?

The symptoms of psoriasis can be reduced but require the expertise of a medical provider. Different treatment options may be more successful for individual patients, depending on their symptoms and the severity of the outbreak.

The following options are some of the most common for treating psoriasis:

  • Prescription topical treatments
  • Oral treatments
  • Natural treatments and home remedies
  • UV light therapy
  • Systemics (taken orally or injected)
  • Biologics (by injection or IV infusion)

How Does Psoriasis Affect Seniors?

Psoriasis increases the risk for other serious health conditions, including heart disease, depression and Crohn’s disease. The related psoriasis arthritis is a debilitating condition, requiring special treatment and care. Side effects to treatment may also be more common among seniors.

Sufferers are recommended to learn and avoid their known triggers and discuss the most effective treatment options with their medical care providers. Exposing the skin to UV light on a regular basis and getting enough rest may alleviate symptoms. Just be sure to use sunscreen during UV light sessions.

To find knowledgeable and qualified caregivers for you or loved ones, contact Matrix Home Health Care Specialists. Our team of registered nurses can help you develop a care plan that addresses common health problems such as psoriasis.