FAQ With A Dermatologist: Everything You Need To Know About Psoriasis

psoriasis faq guide dermatologist psoriatic skin information

Psoriasis is a skin disorder that makes your skin appear scaly and dry. Luckily, a consultant dermatologist in Singapore that goes by the name Dr. Wong Soon Tee is here to shed light on the questions surrounding psoriasis. 

What Is Psoriasis? 

It is a skin disorder that makes the skin look scaly. It takes about 28 days for normal skin cells to regenerate, but that is not the case when someone has psoriasis. It only takes between 2 and 6 days for psoriasis patients to replace their skin. The immune system that’s in a “switched on” mode by mistake is the culprit in the rapid skin cells replacement rate. The patient’s skin cells flake off constantly due to their quick accumulation. 

Psoriasis has affected around one to two per cent of the population in Singapore. This skin disorder can sometimes affect the joints and nails. Often, the nail plates are thickened and disfigured and have a yellowish stain. Psoriasis is quite unsightly and should be dealt with immediately. 

What Are The Different Psoriasis Symptoms? 

The symptoms vary according to the type of psoriasis that you have. The most common is plaque psoriasis, which shares almost the same symptoms as the other types of psoriasis. 

The symptoms of psoriasis include: 

• The presence of crust or plaques of scales on the scalp. 

• Toenails and fingernails disorders, including pitting and discolouration of the nails. 

• The nails show a tendency to detach from the nail bed or to crumble. 

• There are plaques of red skin patches, which are often covered with silver-coloured scales. 

• The plaques can be painful and itchy, and they sometimes break and bleed. In severe cases, the plaques spread and merge. 

What Are The Causes Of Psoriasis? 

The causes of psoriasis are partly environmental and partly genetic. More often than not, patients with psoriasis have a family history of the said disorder. If one of the child’s parents has psoriasis, that child has an increased risk of contracting the disorder. 

The chemical or physical injury to the skin, mental or emotional stress, climate, hormonal changes, reaction to certain drugs, and throat infection can contribute to the occurrence and persistence of psoriasis. 

What Are The Ways To Diagnose Psoriasis? 

Here are the different ways that doctors employ in checking for psoriasis: 

1. Physical Exam 

Your doctor will be able to check if you have psoriasis by looking into the presence of plaques in the  following areas: 

• Nails 
• Scalp 
• Navel 
• Knees 
• Elbows 
• Ears 

Your doctor will give a full body checkup and review your family’s medical history. 

2. Lab Test 

Your doctor may cut a small portion of your skin to do a biopsy. He will test it to ensure that you are not suffering from a skin infection. This is the only test that can rule out or confirm the presence of psoriasis. 

Is Psoriasis Permanent? Is It Curable? 

Psoriasis is something incurable. Most patients have to bear with it for life. Only a minute portion of patients experience complete remission. 

Fortunately, proper treatment can significantly reduce the symptoms of psoriasis regardless of how severe it may be. Recent studies revealed that having better control of the inflammation that comes with psoriasis can lessen the risk of having a stroke, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and other diseases linked to inflammation. 

Is Psoriasis A Communicable Disease? 

Psoriasis is not contagious or infectious. You or anyone cannot get it from someone inflicted with psoriasis. There’s no need for unnecessary worry. 

What are the Available Psoriasis Treatment Options? 

1. Topical Medication 

Nowadays, the current preferred treatment for psoriasis is a special combination of topical therapy. It provides a more complete, quicker response with minimal or without skin irritation. 

There’s a separate scalp treatment solution, which is often prescribed, for psoriasis on the scalp. Some of these topical psoriasis treatments help to act as anti-inflamatories, moisturizers, and antibacterials to help minimize or prevent advanced problems.

2. Phototherapy 

This type of treatment is ideal for patients who do not react well with topical treatment or have severe rashes. Phototherapy makes use of ultraviolet light to hinder the skin’s cell division for a bit. Patients who use phototherapy should undergo treatment 2 or 3 times per week. When psoriasis clears out, the phototherapy continues but the frequency of administering it is diminished. 

3. Oral Medication 

If the first two types of treatments did not work, oral medication is the next best option to take. Drugs like  Acitretin, Cyclosporin A, and Methotrexate are effective in keeping psoriasis under control. But, these drugs have adverse side effects. You need to undergo regular blood tests to monitor the effect on your liver, kidney, and blood count. 

4. Biologic Injection 

The psoriasis research has just released this new type of drug, which is given as an injection. It is effective in keeping psoriasis under control. Its primary advantages over the others are: 

• Zero damage to the liver and kidney. 
• Ease and convenience of undergoing the treatment. 

The primary disadvantage of this treatment is its expensive cost and some potential side effects. Before you start with a biologic injection, your doctor will discuss the pros and cons of the treatment first. 

Can Children Contract Psoriasis? 

Psoriasis is common among children. The National Psoriasis Foundation reports that around 20,000 American children under the age of 10 have psoriasis. Most people had their first episode of psoriasis between ages 15 and 35. But, children younger than 15 and adults over 35 may still contract psoriasis. One study revealed that 40 per cent of adults suffering from psoriasis claimed they had their symptoms when they were still children. 

The psoriasis symptoms of some children tend to become less frequent and less severe as time goes by. Others may need to deal with psoriasis all their lives. 

How Can You Help A Child Cope With Psoriasis? 

Some cases of psoriasis in children are easy to address, while some can be troublesome. Children with plaques in the large areas of their skin or plaques in the sensitive parts of their bodies, such as around the genitals or on their faces, may feel embarrassed. 

The affected area may be small, but the child’s self-esteem may suffer. Feelings of disgust and shame may worsen the problem. It can lead to depression and the feeling of being isolated. 

It is necessary to cooperate with your family doctor to reduce the psychological or emotional trauma that psoriasis may bring to your child. Considering today’s culture, any child could be easily bullied or picked on due to unsightly skin or other minor issues. 

Ask your doctor or dermatologist to explain to your child about his/her skin condition to lessen the possible psychological impact that the disease may bring. Make your child understand that the adults care for his or her well-being. Teach your child about the right responses to comments and questions from their peers. 

You may also ask your doctor about the possibility of joining a support group or working with a child therapist. Don’t ignore the possible impact of psoriasis on your child. 

When a child has psoriasis, treating the condition is never enough. You, your child, and your attending physician should work together in finding a holistic way of treating the disease. The effect of psoriasis on a child goes beyond skin-deep.

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