Psoriasis is a disease that affects the skin. Although it can appear on any part of the body, it most often occurs on the outside of the elbows, scalp, and knees. It causes itchy, scaly patches of skin that can be very uncomfortable and hard to live with. The condition can occur at any age, so knowing its symptoms may help you to identify it in your aging relative.
About Psoriasis and Its Causes
Psoriasis causes skin cells to develop more quickly than normal. As a result, they build up on the skin’s surface, forming the itchy patches. Doctors don’t know what causes some people to develop psoriasis. It seems to have something to do with the immune system, specifically the T cells.
Normally, the T cells move about the body fighting off germs, including viruses and bacteria. However, when a person has psoriasis, the T cells attack skin cells as though they were the invading germ. This causes the skin cells to become overactive and reproduce too rapidly. Rather than new skin cells taking days to reach the surface of the skin, it only takes days.
Psoriasis may be triggered by an outside factor, such as:
- An infection.
- Skin injury.
- Heavy drinking.
- Vitamin D deficiency.
- Certain medications, including some high blood pressure medications.
The symptoms of psoriasis can vary from person to person. In addition, there are different kinds of psoriasis, which present differently. However, there are some common symptoms, which include:
- Patches of skin that are red and have silvery scales.
- Skin that is dry and cracked. It may also bleed.
- A feeling of itching, burning, or soreness.
- Fingernails that are ridged, thick, or pitted.
- Joints that are stiff and swollen.
The psoriasis patches can be small and consist of just a few spots. However, in some cases they cover large areas of the body.
Psoriasis tends to occur in cycles. It typically flares up for a couple of weeks or even months, then gets better again. It may even go away altogether for a while.
If your older family member suffers from psoriasis, a senior care provider can help them to manage the condition. Experts recommend daily baths to help soften and soothe the skin. A senior care provider can assist the senior to get in and out of the bathtub safely, easing their worries about falling. The senior care provider can also help them to apply moisturizer. Sunlight can also reduce psoriasis symptoms, so a senior care provider can assist the senior to go outside for a short time each day.