Psoriasis - Not Contagious



Skin cells are produced at the deepest layer of the skin and gradually move to the outermost layer.

Thereafter, they die and are shed off. This takes a period of 3-4 weeks. When a person’s immune system sends faulty signals that tell skin cells to grow too quickly, new skin cells form in days rather than the normal number of weeks. These new cells are then piled up on the skin, forming psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that makes cells to build up on the surface of the skin or nails. This forms red, flaky, crusty patches that are sometimes painful.
Though the cause is not fully known, it is thought to be as a result of the immune system mistakenly attacking the skin cells. In this case, a type of white blood cell called T cell which normally travels throughout the body to fight off bacteria and virus, mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells.
Factors that may trigger psoriasis include stress, heavy consumption of alcohol, injury to the skin, infections and certain medications. Obesity and family history are risk factors too. Psoriasis in turn, is a risk factor for other diseases such as type II diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, eye conditions, Parkinson’s disease, metabolic syndrome etc. It also reduces the quality of life as it can lead to deformation and disability.
Treatment of psoriasis is based on its type, area affected and its severity. Outcome of treatment differs from person to person. The aim of treatment is to find the most effective way of inhibiting the rate of cell multiplication. The use of moisturizer, exposure to controlled amount of sunlight, avoidance of alcohol may not heal psoriasis but improve the appearance of the skin. Treatments include:
       ·         Topical treatment: Such as corticosteroids, vitamin D analogue, anthralin, retinoids, moisturizers, coal tar etc.
      ·         Phototherapy: Involves use of sunlight, UVB phototherapy, narrow band UVB therapy, excimer laser etc.
     ·         Systemic treatment: Involves the use of oral medication or injections such as drugs that alter immune functions, retinoids, methotrexate drugs etc.
Alternatively, aloe vera and fish oil may help to relief symptoms and itching. Psoriasis is not contagious so victims should not be discriminated against. Let us all join hands to break every barrier for people with psoriasis.
By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi
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