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  • Psoriasis Affects Not Just The Skin, But Also Nails: 6 Common Signs To Watch For

    There's the danger of losing your nails if you don't get treatment.
    by Jocelyn Valle .
Psoriasis Affects Not Just The Skin, But Also Nails: 6 Common Signs To Watch For
PHOTO BY Shutterstock
  • Editor’s Note: This article is intended for information purposes only. It does not substitute a doctor. It is vital to always consult a medically trained professional for advice that suits your needs best.

    Psoriasis is a "serious global problem," according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It's a skin disease that affects other body parts, including nails. That's why medical attention is needed for nail psoriasis and other types.

    What you need to know about psoriasis

    The WHO defines psoriasis as a "chronic, noncommunicable, painful, disfiguring and disabling disease for which there is no cure and with great negative impact on patients’ quality of life (QoL)."

    It adds that the disease "can occur at any age, and is most common in the age group 50–69." Additionally, the reported prevalence of psoriasis in countries ranges between 0.09%  and 11.4%, which makes it a serious global problem.

    In the Philippines, the estimated prevalance of 2.4 percent is an "understatement," says the advocacy group Psoriasis Philippines (PsorPhil). The organization describes itself as duly registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and globally recognized with the aim of representing the "interests of the millions of Filipinos believed to be suffering in silence with psoriasis."

    The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) explains that the skin condition develops "when the body makes skin cells too quickly, causing skin cells to pile up and form visible patches or spots on the skin."

    Psoriasis is not contagious and cannot be passed on through close contact. Experts all agree that the root cause of the disease is still unknown. But there are certain factors that serve as psoriasis cause or causes, namely:

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    • Genetic predisposition—meaning, it runs in the family
    • Immune system—as there's a suggestion that it could be an autoimmune disease
    • External and internal factors—including mild trauma or injury to skin, sunburn, infections, systemic drugs, and stress

    Psoriasis types

    There are six main types of the psoriasis, according to PsorPhil, and it is possible to get more than one of the types of psoriasis. The disease can start, for instance, from skin and then spread to the nails, or other body parts, and vice-versa.

    Plaque psoriasis

    This is the most common type, which affects about 80 percent of patients. It's characterized by dry, raised, red skin lesions or plaques, thus the name, with silvery scales as covering around the areas of elbows, knees, back, or head.

    Inverse psoriasis

    The red lesions caused by inverse is are smooth, unlike the ones caused by the plaque variety. They oftentimes occur in skin folds, like the armpits, groin areas, buttocks, or under the breasts.

    Guttate psoriasis

    This is recognizable by small, reddish sores that are thinner compared to the thick patches in the plaque variety. The sores or pink spots commonly occur on the upper body, arms, and legs. It affects mostly children and young adults after being triggered by bacterial infection, like strep throat.

    Pustular psoriasis

    This is charaterized by white pus blisters that can occur quickly just hours after the skin becomes red and tender. The blisters can also occur in widespread patches all over the body or in small areas, such as palms, fingertips, or soles of the feet.

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    Erythrodermic psoriasis

    This is the severe, highly inflammatory type of psoriasis that covers the entire body with a red rash that peels off while causing an intense itch or burning sensation. Erythrodermic psoriasis is also the least common among other types.

    Palmoplantar psoriasis

    As the name suggests, palmoplantar psoriasis involves either the hand palms or the foot soles. It can cause "scaly plaques, general thickening of the skin and deep, painful cracks and dryness." As a result, walking or using the hands can be very painful to do.

    Psoriasis types based on location in the body

    These are the followig, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in the United States:

    • Genital psoriasis
    • Scalp psoriasis
    • Facial psoriasis—including around the eyebrows, upper forehead, and the skin between the nose and upper lip
    • Skin folds—such as under the arms and breasts are often irritated by rubbing and sweating
    • Hands, feet, and nails

    All about nail psoriasis

    If you have psoriasis, the AAD says it’s important to check your fingernails and toenails for signs of nail psoriasis. The common signs include:

    • Tiny dents in your nails called “nail pits”
    • White, yellow, or brown discoloration
    • Crumbling nails
    • Nail or nails separating from your finger or toe
    • Buildup beneath your nail
    • Blood under your nail

    The AAD's advice is to consult a dermatologist as soon as possible for treatment. Otherwise, your condition will likely worsen to the point of losing your nails and may eventually affect your ability to use your hands or to walk.

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    For treatment, your dermatologist may recommend:

    • A potent or very potent corticosteroid
    • Calcipotriol
    • Tazarotene

    If a stronger treatment is needed:

    • Injections of corticosteroids (or another psoriasis medicine)
    • Laser treatment
    • A combination of psoralen (P) and long-wave ultraviolet radiation (UVA), also called PUVA
    • Treatment that works throughout the body, not just for psoriasis in nails

    Read here for more treatment option.

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