Your guide to psoriasis
Dealing with psoriasis can be hard. We break down the different types of psoriasis and how you can try to manage it.
Psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune and inflammatory skin condition.
That was already a lot to take in.
So let’s break it down (in human words).
Psoriasis is a chronic disease, meaning that once you experience your first flare ups, it usually sticks around for good. However, it does fluctuate in extent and severity, which means that you may experience longer periods of time where you won’t have any flare ups (and unfortunately also the exact opposite).
Autoimmune conditions are characterised by your immune system attacking your body (not on purpose though), for example by fighting off your own cells because it thinks they don’t belong there.
In the case of psoriasis, it means your immune system mistakes your skin (cells) as something foreign to your body, which is why the cell turnover process is way faster in people with psoriasis than others. Typically, skin cells take 3-4 weeks to move up through the different layers of the skin. With psoriasis, this process usually only takes 3-7 days, leading to the cells to stack on top of each other leaving a white, silverish effect on the skin’s surface.
As with other types of inflammatory diseases, people dealing with psoriasis will usually experience dry, red, itchy and scaly skin patches around the body (but typically on elbows, knees, the lower back, and the scalp) as the main symptoms.
Besides the fact that it’s an immune-related inflammatory condition, we don’t know the exact cause of psoriasis. However, both inherited factors such as genetics and ethnicity, as well as environmental factors like stress, air pollutants, sun exposure, and lifestyle play a role in its development.
Get to know the 5 different types of psoriasis
Psoriasis can be divided into 5 different subtypes - each with very distinct characteristics, severities and frequencies. Here, we try to outline each type, hopefully making it a bit easier for you to figure out which type you have. And if you don’t have psoriasis, you’ll just learn a lot(!) about psoriasis.
Plaque psoriasisAround 80% of all psoriasis cases are identified as plaque psoriasis. This type is itchy and painful (sadly), and sometimes the patches (the plaques, hence the name) can bleed and crack, making it a super uncomfortable skin condition.
Guttate psoriasisThe second most common type of psoriasis (but still only about 10%) is guttate psoriasis. You’ll recognise this type of psoriasis by the small, round and drop-shaped spots called papules (which is also a type of acne) that are red, a little scaly, and slightly raised from the skin. Usually they appear on the torso, legs and arms, but can also be found on the face and scalp. With guttate psoriasis, the affected skin (the drop-shaped spots) doesn’t necessarily get thicker than your normal skin, like you’ll typically see with plaque psoriasis. Unfortunately, in some cases it can turn into plaque psoriasis over time - or you’ll even have both of them at the same time.
Inverse (flexural) psoriasisFlexural or inverse psoriasis often appears in skinfolds, such as under the breasts or in the bending joints. You typically won’t see scaling in these areas because of constant friction of the skin and also because we tend to sweat in our folds. Due to its appearance, it’s often misdiagnosed as a fungal or bacterial infection, but since people with inverse psoriasis often also have another form of psoriasis on the body, it makes diagnosing easier.
Pustular psoriasisPustular psoriasis is a very severe (but fortunately rare) form of psoriasis that quickly develops into many white pustules surrounded by red skin. Pustular psoriasis may affect isolated areas of the body, like hands or feet, or even cover most of the skin's surface. Some people affected by pustular psoriasis experience cyclic periods of pustules and remission, and symptoms often associated with this type of psoriasis are fever, chills, rapid pulse, muscle weakness or loss of appetite. It is often misinterpreted as an infection of the skin.
Erythrodermic psoriasisErythrodermic psoriasis (or exfoliating psoriasis) is fortunately a rare type of psoriasis. And we say fortunately, because it resembles severe burns to the skin, making it commonly known as the most severe type of psoriasis. The condition is serious and can sometimes be a medical emergency because the body loses its ability to regulate its temperature. Erythrodermic psoriasis is often characterised by widespread red and scaly areas covering large portions of the body.
Tips and tricks to manage your psoriasis
We’ve briefly touched upon itching being a symptom of psoriasis. But for some people, the itching is actually so bad that it affects their everyday life.
If you have psoriasis and you’re struggling with itching, here’s some tips and tricks we normally recommend our NØIE users, when they deal with itching:
- Avoid excessive bathing and usage of soap since it’ll dry out your skin and aggravate the itching situation. However, clean skin lowers the risk of infections (this is especially important if you have eczema, but also applies for psoriasis) - so keep the showers short.
- Moisturise. This can be done pro-actively as well, keeping the skin barrier hydrated.
- Try keeping your moisturiser in the fridge. It’s soothing and will increase the antipruritic effect of the moisturiser.
- Avoid wool clothing. Even without psoriasis, wool can be super irritating for the skin.
- Keep a low temperature in your bedroom or wherever you sleep.
- Don’t over-do it with steroid creams as it won’t help with the itching unless there are inflammatory changes in the skin.
If you’re dealing with psoriasis and feel like you’ve tried more or less anything to battle it, we’d be more than happy to help you find the right solution. Our NØIE creams are a great first step in line of treatment, with steroid creams as a second step during flare ups, to proactively try and calm the skin by keeping it moisturised and well-hydrated. When you take our skin test, all your personal skin concerns get taken into consideration when we recommend a product for you. That way you don’t need to worry about whether or not the ingredients in your skincare will upset your psoriasis. ‘Cause we got that covered for you!