Wednesday, 30 January 2013
Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that affects the skin. It is typically a lifelong condition. There is currently no cure, but various treatments can help to control the symptoms. Psoriasis occurs when the immune system mistakes a normal skin cell for a pathogen, and sends out faulty signals that cause overproduction of new skin cells. Psoriasis is not contagious. However, psoriasis has been linked to an increased risk of stroke, and treating high blood lipid levels may lead to improvement. There are five types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular, and erythrodermic.
A diagnosis of psoriasis is usually based on the appearance of the skin; there are no special blood tests or diagnostic procedures. Sometimes, a skin biopsy, or scraping, may be needed to rule out other disorders and to confirm the diagnosis. Skin from a biopsy will show clubbed rete pegs if positive for psoriasis. Another sign of psoriasis is that when the plaques are scraped, one can see pinpoint bleeding from the skin below (Auspitz's sign).
Some studies suggest psoriasis symptoms can be relieved by changes in diet and lifestyle. Fasting periods, low energy diets and vegetarian diets have improved psoriasis symptoms in some studies and diets supplemented with fish oil (in this study cod liver oil) have also shown beneficial effects – though evidence is still inconclusive and more research is needed to determine whether there is any benefit from diet manipulations.
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