Since it’s Psoriasis Awareness Month, we wanted to take a look at the most common autoimmune disease in the nation and shed some light on this sometimes painful skin condition. Anyone with psoriasis knows just how difficult it can be to deal with the disease. From redness, to itching to scaliness of the skin, psoriasis can be uncomfortable or even embarrassing for some people. The good news is there are treatments to help improve your condition if needed. The other good news is that psoriasis doesn’t have to get worse as you age.
What is Psoriasis?
While psoriasis may seem like a skin issue, it is actually a disease associated with a person’s immune system. People with psoriasis have an overactive immune system. This causes skin inflammation and rapid cell growth. These cells are then pushed to the surface of the skin in as little as three days instead of the normal twenty-eight day cycle.
Because these skin cells reach the surface so quickly, the body can’t get rid of them fast enough. When they die they pile up instead of being removed. This causes the noticeable thick, red patches on the skin’s surface associated with psoriasis.
Can Psoriasis Start at Any Age?
Psoriasis is a common disease and with 7.5 million people in the United States suffering from the condition, it is the most common autoimmune disease in the U.S.
While psoriasis can develop at any age, very often, a person with the disease will start to notice symptoms sometime between the age of 15 and 25. Up to 60% of those who have the disease say that psoriasis is a large issue in their lives, and up to 25% of patients have cases of psoriasis that are classified as moderate to severe.
Does Psoriasis Itch?
As anyone who has dealt with psoriasis knows, it will itch quite a bit. What others may not realize is that the itch can feel like burning. Either way, it tends to be painful, as well. While not all patients with psoriasis itch or have a burning sensation, almost 90% of them do.
Because of the itching associated with psoriasis, people can have trouble sleeping or concentrating on things such as work and family. It can also cause problems in their sex lives.
In addition, if a person with psoriasis does scratch their itchy skin, it can actually make the inflammation worse, which will lead to even more itching. It can be a vicious cycle. Stress can make the itching worse, too.
There are ways to reduce itching. Using thick creams or moisturizers that contain lanolin or glycerin can help lessen the urge to scratch. Also, there are scale-softening products that can help you remove the flakey areas of your skin.
At night, an antihistamine can help you reduce the itching, with the added benefit of helping you sleep. Finally, if over-the-counter remedies don’t seem to help, then it’s time to talk to your doctor for additional options.
Does Psoriasis Get Worse with Age?
Once under control, psoriasis does not get worse with age. However, because stress is a factor in flare ups, certain life events can have an impact. The death of a loved one, medical conditions, and other events that occur as a person ages can cause psoriasis flare ups.
If you have been dealing with stressful events, it is best to find ways to reduce the stress, and that, in turn, will help you lessen flare ups.
While psoriasis is a life-long condition, there is a lot of information available on how to deal with the disease and not letting it play a factor in enjoying life.