To put it simply, psoriasis is a chronic disorder that results in red, thickened patches on the skin with shedding of silvery scales. The condition may be accompanied with discomfort and/or pain.
Skin cells normally have a life cycle of about 28 days each - which means that each of these cells is shed off and another comes up in place every 28 days. Now imagine if the cells start growing very rapidly without waiting for the earlier ones to shed out. It would lead to a build up of a thick layer of cells leading to the thickening of the skin in the affected area. This results in red patches with scaling.
Psoriasis can vary in intensity from mild cases with only nuisance-value to some extremely debilitating cases. The disease can also progress to affect other areas of the body such as nails, joints, scalp, etc. A tendency to come and go periodically is commonly seen in many cases – there are phases of worsening of the symptoms (relapse) and periods when the condition spontaneously resolves (remission).
Almost 2-3 % of the general population is affected by psoriasis and it is increasingly becoming more and more common. The incidence is higher amongst young adults though it can strike at any age. No gender predilection is seen in the cases largely.
In addition to all this, it’s very important to bear in mind that psoriasis is not infectious – it cannot be passed from person to another through physical contact.
What ticked off its onset?
Psoriasis is considered to be an auto-immune condition in which the immune cells of the body mistakenly attack the body’s own skin cells. This triggers an abnormal response in which there is abnormally fast growth of the cells leading to thickened skin & excessive shedding of the scales.
What triggers the auto-immunity cannot be exactly pin-pointed. However, auto-immunity tends to run in families and a genetic background has been verified in many cases over and over.
There may be a family history of any kind of auto immune disease in the patient’s family, not necessarily of psoriasis.
In addition many triggers have been identified that can initiate an attack of psoriasis. This may be in people who have never had at attack ever as well as people who suffer from the disease but are in remission. These external stressors serve as triggers for the inherited defect in immune function. They may even worsen the existing symptoms and some of the common ones are:
- Bacterial infection such as streptococcal throat infection; thrush; viral infection
- Stress - this is one of the commonest triggers for the abnormal immune response that is initiated in the body
- Injury to the skin – this could be in the form of a cut, scrape, insect bite - the phenomenon in which the skin lesions occur at the site of the trauma is called Koebner phenomenon
- Cold weather - the onset of winters is known to cause a relapse in a large number of patients of psoriasis
- Environmental factors - sunburn, chemical burns, etc
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- A reaction to a vaccine
- Certain medications – those containing lithium (found in some anti-depressants); beta blockers (high blood pressure medications); hydroxychloroquine (antimalarial drug); iodides
Peculiarly identified by the nature of the lesions, psoriasis has a unique presentation in most cases - one that cannot be missed. However, the symptoms may vary from person to person in terms of the location, spread, severity and duration of the lesions. Principally, few or all of the following features can be seen in most cases:
- Red, thickened patches/lesions (called as plaques) on the skin – these may vary from small rain-drop sized lesions to large ones covering an extensive area
- The lesions are covered with silvery scales
- Itching of the lesions is a common feature – there may be burning that occurs after scratching
- There may be discomfort or pain experienced at the site of lesions
- The lesions are dry and excessive dryness may cause cracked skin and bleeding
- During the active stage of the disease, scratching or cutting the skin may give rise to new lesions at such areas (known as Koebner phenomenon)
- Nails may be thickened, pitted or ridged. There may be discoloration of the nails and they may crumble or detach from the nail-bed
- In case of joint affection, there is swelling and stiffness of joints
At this point, it is important to discuss the different types of psoriasis because the prognosis of the cases differs based on the type:
- Psoriasis vulgaris: This is the commonest form and is also called Plaque psoriasis. Seen in almost 9 out of 10 psoriasis patients, this presents as red raised patches with silvery scales.
- Guttate psoriasis: Small, rain-drop like lesions are seen to develop on the trunk and limbs in this type. Several weeks after a throat infection (particularly streptococcal), this form may develop suddenly.
- Pustular psoriasis: The lesions in this kind of psoriasis are filled with pus besides having the other peculiar characteristics.
- Inverse psoriasis: Bright red, smooth patches are seen in the folds of the skin here. Common areas of affection are under the breasts, in armpits, near genitals, under buttocks and under abdominal folds.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis: This is a rare form and can be quite serious. Patients develop intense redness and swelling of a large part of the skin, often accompanied by itching or pain. This can be triggered by severe sunburn, intake of steroids, etc. In severe cases, the patient may develop dehydration, fever, infection requiring hospital admission.
- Nail psoriasis: Affection of fingernail and toenails is seen in many cases and appears as discolored thickened, pitted or ridged nails that crumble or detach from the nail-bed.
- Scalp psoriasis affects almost half the people who develop skin psoriasis. In these cases, the scalp has dry and scaly skin or heavily crusted plaque areas. The plaque flakes off or peels off in clusters.
- Psoriatic arthritis: Joint affection is seen in about 10 to 30 percent of people with psoriasis. Symptoms include swelling, stiffness and pain in the affected joints. This can be quite crippling in the advanced stages.
- Palmo-plantar psoriasis: Typically the lesions are seen on the palms and soles of the patient in this variety.
Psoriasis, on account of the chronic nature of the illness and its effects on the looks of patients, can lead to many emotional problems such as:
- Anger, irritability
Treatment of psoriasis must be targeted to deal with all of these emotional affections as well
Research-based evidences speak clear and loud of the success of homeopathy in treating psoriasis.
A study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, a conventional medical Journal, showed that psoriasis patients experienced significant improvement in their quality of life and reduction in their psoriasis symptoms with homeopathy. And this was without any kind of side-effects whatsoever. Of the 82 patients involved in the study that went on for 2 years, many had suffered psoriasis for as long as 15 years and had previously unsuccessfully tried conventional treatments.
At Dr. Batra’s we have successfully treated more than 25,000 cases of psoriasis with homeopathy over the last 35 years. Our safe and scientific solutions have brought smiles to many suffering patients of psoriasis. In fact, a study conducted by A.C. Nielson showed that as compared to general practitioners, specialists and local homeopaths, a higher than average improvement is seen at Dr. Batra’s in treatment of skin ailments.
We have qualified and experienced dermatologists as part of our team of 300+ doctors - they combine expert skin care with the individualized diet plan provided by our nutritionists. This, along with homeopathic remedies, helps us to give the best treatment forpsoriasis to each and every patient.
In addition, we have specially formulated Dr. Batra's Anti-dandruff shampoo derived from natural substances to relieve the scaling from scalp in psoriasis patients. Many of our patients who use it regularly report significant improvement in their scalp and lesser scaling. This is free from side-effects which is a very common phenomenon if patients use coal-tar shampoos (coal tar shampoos are also known to be carcinogenic).
All this expertise combined with dedicated efforts to give the best results to our patients has brought a long way in the field of homeopathy.
The homeopathic remedies prescribed for psoriasis address the body at the level of immunity and gently restore the deviation back to normalcy. They help to control the further progress of the disease.
Treatment also depends on the duration and severity of illness. Recent -onset cases and milder cases respond faster as compared to those with a longer duration and extensive spread.
On account of being a stubborn disease, cases of psoriasis usually require long-term treatment and there is no magical cure. Perseverance and compliance with the treatment is the key to cure. During the treatment, there are periods of ups and downs but your treating physician at Dr. Batra’s will always be there to help you sail through easily.