Your Health is Your Wealth - Pso­ri­a­sis

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Health & Wellbeing -

What is Pso­ri­a­sis?

It is an in­flam­ma­tory au­toim­mune con­di­tion of the skin, the nails and the joints, while not con­ta­gious, af­fects about 3% of all Aus­tralians. While there is no known cure for pso­ri­a­sis, it can be con­trolled with treat­ment.

The im­mune sys­tem is over­ac­tive and causes new skin cells to mul­ti­ply and ma­ture at a faster-than-nor­mal rate. This re­sults in symp­toms which can in­clude itch­i­ness and red or flak­ing scaly patches on the skin – called pso­ri­a­sis plaques – which if not ef­fec­tively con­trolled can crack and bleed. The disease can also af­fect the nails and may cause arthri­tis (pso­ri­atic arthri­tis). About 10 per cent of af­fected peo­ple have all three.

Pso­ri­a­sis plaques can de­velop on most parts of the body but the ar­eas most usu­ally af­fected are the scalp, knees, el­bows and lower back. Some 30 per cent of peo­ple af­fected by pso­ri­a­sis have rel­a­tives who have, or have had, pso­ri­a­sis.

Symp­toms of skin pso­ri­a­sis

The ar­eas that are most com­monly af­fected are the scalp, el­bows and knees, but skin pso­ri­a­sis can oc­cur any­where on the body.

Symp­toms of skin pso­ri­a­sis vary from per­son to per­son. The ef­fects may in­clude red scaly patches on scalp, el­bows, knees and other parts of the body, itch­i­ness – how­ever, many peo­ple do not feel itchy at all, and shed­ding of scales of skin.

What are the causes of Pso­ri­a­sis?

En­vi­ron­men­tal events can trig­ger episodes of pso­ri­a­sis in peo­ple with an in­her­ited sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to the con­di­tion. These may in­clude in­fec­tions – such as ton­sil­li­tis, med­i­ca­tions – such as lithium, beta block­ers, an­ti­malar­ial and anti-in­flam­ma­tory med­i­ca­tion, skin in­jury, and smok­ing which can make cer­tain types of pso­ri­a­sis worse. Most trig­ger­ing events re­main un­known and there is no spe­cific di­etary ad­vice for peo­ple af­fected by pso­ri­a­sis.

Pso­ri­a­sis is not due to any par­tic­u­lar food and so far there is no ev­i­dence that spe­cial di­ets are help­ful. Ex­ces­sive al­co­hol use may worsen the con­di­tion. There is no spe­cific di­etary ad­vice for peo­ple af­fected by pso­ri­a­sis.

In ad­di­tion to the un­com­fort­able and some­times painful phys­i­cal con­se­quences of the disease, pso­ri­a­sis can sig­nif­i­cantly ef­fect a suf­ferer’s qual­ity of life.

Some stud­ies of pso­ri­a­sis suf­fer­ers show that up to 70 per cent will avoid swim­ming and 40 per cent will avoid play­ing sport. Some 12 per cent will even avoid leav­ing their house and 50 per cent of peo­ple with pso­ri­a­sis say it has a neg­a­tive im­pact of their per­sonal re­la­tion­ships. Given these statis­tics it is not sur­pris­ing that many peo­ple with pso­ri­a­sis also ex­pe­ri­ence anx­i­ety and/or de­pres­sion.

Treat­ment for pso­ri­a­sis

Doc­tors may pre­scribe a range of treat­ments for the re­lief of pso­ri­a­sis symp­toms in­clud­ing coal tar prepa­ra­tions, cor­ti­sone al­cipotriol and other pre­scrip­tion creams, med­i­ca­tions such as methotrex­ate, neoti­ga­son, cy­closporin and cal­cipotriol; and ul­tra­vi­o­let light ther­apy.

Bi­o­logic ther­a­pies for pso­ri­a­sis

Bi­o­logic ther­a­pies have rev­o­lu­tionised the treat­ment of pso­ri­a­sis and greatly im­proved our un­der­stand­ing of how pso­ri­a­sis works. As these treat­ments are ex­pen­sive, the gov­ern­ment only sub­sidises the cost for peo­ple with se­vere cases of the con­di­tion, and where all other treat­ment op­tions have been ex­hausted.

God Bless Dr Ash Mina Prin­ci­pal Sci­en­tist | NSW Health Pathol­ogy Ph.D., M.Sc.(Clin Biochem), B.Sc.(Hons), Grad Dip (Biochem Nu­tri­tion), Grad Dip (Mi­cro), MACMSR, MAIMS. In­sti­tute of Clin­i­cal Pathol­ogy and Med­i­cal Re­search (ICPMR), West­mead Hos­pi­tal. Se­nior clin­i­cal lejjc­turer, Fac­ulty of Medicine, Syd­ney Univer­sity. Ad­dress: Locked Bag 9001, West­mead NSW 2145.

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