Psoriasis is a condition that is suffered by many millions of people all over the world, with various developed countries reporting incidence rates that are remarkably similar.
125 million people worldwide – 2% to 3% of the total population have psoriasis, according to the World Psoriasis Day consortium. Studies show that between 10% and 30% of people with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis. (Source: http://www.psoriasis.org/learn_statistics)
Given that the population of Malaysia is 28,250,400, it is estimated that 500,000 to 800,000 Malaysians are afflicted with Psoriasis. (Source: Population, Household and Living Quarters (2010), Department of Statistics, Malaysia.)
For psoriasis sufferers, there is something of a ‘good news, bad news’ paradox with which most of these people have undoubtedly already learned to live. The good news is that, on the one hand, psoriasis is not a condition that is life threatening (although it has been suggested that the condition increases the risk of heart attack). Balanced against this however is the fact that psoriasis can bring a great deal of misery to both sufferers and their families, so it is not a condition that can be ignored. Furthermore, because it can develop into something far more unpleasant and painful, psoriasis is a condition that sufferers have to treat.
Source: 10-Year Review from the Malaysian Psoriasis Registry (2007–2016)
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition which is notcontagious.
Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease, meaning that a dysfunctional immune system is a key cause of the disease. In the case of psoriasis, an overactive immune system can cause a rapid increase in skin cell production that leads to raised, scaly patches on the skin. These patches can be red in Caucasian skin and purple in skin of color. Many people report that psoriasis itches, burns and stings.
Psoriasis is not just a skin disease but a systemic one, which means it affects your whole body. It is associated with other serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and depression. If you develop a rash that doesn’t go away with an over-the-counter medication, you should contact your health care provider.
There are five different types of psoriasis, of which by far the most common is plaque psoriasis.
- Plaque psoriasis which is a form that is suffered by approximately 80% of psoriasis sufferers. This particular form of psoriasis (also known as ‘psoriasis vulgaris’) usually appears as reddish patches of raised skin which are often covered in a silvery-white scale. These skin patches, otherwise known as plaques or lesions are most commonly found on the elbows and knees, the scalp or sometimes in the lower back area of the sufferer. Having said this, they are not restricted to these particular areas of the body and can appear anywhere on the head, torso or limbs.
The other less common types of psoriasis are:
- Guttate psoriasis which is characterized by small red spots on the skin. This particular form of psoriasis most commonly develops in children or teenagers who have a history of streptococcal infections;
- Erythrodermic psoriasis where the patient suffers widespread redness, severe itching and often pain. This is the least common type of psoriasis which is suffered by only 1% to 2% of people who have psoriasis, which is fortunate, because this particular type of psoriasis can in the most extreme cases be life-threatening. This is because in the most severe cases, large sections of skin are shed, meaning that there are areas of exposed, unprotected flesh which could be prone to infections (it is often compared to those who have suffered very bad burns);
- Inverse psoriasis is where the sufferer is likely to find small, smooth red lesions forming in bodily skin folds where warm, moist conditions (such as in the armpits, genital area etc) encourage smooth, non-scaly but nevertheless painful to the touch plaques.
- Pustular psoriasis which is characterized by patches of red skin at the centre of which there are likely to be white pustules. This type of psoriasis occurs in less than 5% of sufferers, and is usually seen only in adults.
Irrespective of the particular type of psoriasis that an individual is suffering from, it usually causes at least a degree discomfort which in some cases can become mild to severe pain. For psoriasis sufferers, it is a fact of their life that their skin is almost always itchy, and that it can often crack and bleed as well.
In the most severe cases, the pain suffered by someone who has psoriasis can be significant enough to prevent them handling everyday tasks whilst also making settled sleep extremely difficult as well. Unfortunately, because psoriasis is a chronic condition, meaning that it is one that is a lifelong thing, there can be no total relief for any sufferer. Psoriasis is a condition that can apparently clear up and then return (often with a vengeance) many times throughout life, and because there is no recognized cure for the condition, this is a fact that every psoriasis sufferer has to get used to and live with.
What causes psoriasis?
As with a surprising number of medical conditions, the exact causes of psoriasis have not as yet been established beyond all doubt. But, whilst the traditional view of psoriasis was that it is a condition of the epidermis, the uppermost layer of the skin, research over the past few years has begun to indicate otherwise.
This research has indicated that far from being a condition that is only related to the epidermis, the causes of psoriasis go much deeper than this. In fact, this research indicates that psoriasis is a condition that is caused by malfunctions in the sufferer’s immune system when certain immune cells are activated and subsequently become overactive.
In any individual who has a perfectly normally functioning immune system, white blood cells or T-cells produce antibodies that are designed to repel bacteria and viruses. However, it is now believed that in the case of a psoriasis sufferer, these cells begin to fight an imaginary infection or try to heal a wound that doesn’t exist by creating a surfeit of new skin cells to repel the imaginary invader or to repair the nonexistent damage.
This in turn causes the plaques or skin lesions that are endemic to plaque psoriasis to appear.
Under normal circumstances, the life cycle of the average skin cell for someone who is totally healthy is around about 28 days, but it is believed that in psoriasis sufferers, their immune system is creating far too many cells. Moreover, because these cells are being produced so quickly, they mature in as little as three to six days before moving to the surface of the skin.
Consequently, because these cells are not dying quickly enough, they build up on the surface of the skin, layer upon layer, and thus the psoriatic plaques are formed.
There are some generally accepted factors that make some individuals more likely to suffer psoriasis than others. Certain triggers can cause a psoriasis sufferer’s immune system to start to create skin cells at such an accelerated rate that they suffer an outbreak of skin lesions or symptoms to flare up. Some common triggers include:
- Skin abrasions, cuts and other injuries;
- Emotional stress or heightened anxiety;
- Weather – Hot weather and sweat can make psoriasis worse. On the flip side, colder weather means greater exposure to artificial heating and dry air, which also worsens psoriasis.
- Streptococcal or other infections, including something as basic and as simple as a sore throat;
- Friction – Wearing uncomfortable and abrasive fabrics can cause a flare-up.
- Smoking and Alcohol Consumption
- Hormonal Fluctuations
We shall learn more on the Psoriasis and other Conditions plus more about Psoriatic Arthritis in the next blog.
Learn more how Hi-Bliss Hydrogen Therapy and Hydrogen Water can help improve the Quality of Life of Psoriasis patients here: https://hi-bliss.com/treatment-services-detox-wellness/
- Improvement of psoriasis-associated arthritis and skin lesions by treatment with molecular hydrogen ~ Toru Ishibashi, Miki Ichikawa et.al. MOLECULAR MEDICINE REPORTS 12: 2757-2764, 2015. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2015.3707
- Positive effects of hydrogen-water bathing in patients of psoriasis and parapsoriasis en plaques ~ Qinyuan Zhu, Yueshen Wu et.al. NATURE.COM| SCIENTIFIC REPORTS (2018) 8:8051. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-26388-3
- Hydrogen(H2) treatment for acute erythymatous skin diseases. ~ Ono et al. MEDICAL GAS RESEARCH 2012, 2:14 http://www.medicalgasresearch.com/content/2/1/14