Chronic plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis and is an inherited illness that actually affects the autoimmune function of the body. As the immune system misinterprets tissue and cells as foreign bodies, the symptoms for this illness can be expressed as flare-ups of skin patches and rashes which are actually an attempt for the body to try and remove the perceived toxins. The evident plaques are actually malformations of the squamous cells that result as the proteins that are released by the immune system reach a loading level within the blood stream.
Since the t-cells that are released by the immune system are designed to encapsulate foreign organisms that are not actually present within the body, the result is that skin cells are attacked instead, and this forms the plaques. This illness is marked by chronic outbreaks of the dermatological symptoms, with periods of clearness in between.
What are the Symptoms for Chronic Plaque Psoriasis?
Chronic plaque psoriasis expresses itself mainly as a skin condition, although it is a systemic disease. This includes patches of skin abnormalities that can range from specific areas of the body, such as the knees, elbows, and scalp, to an outbreak that affects the entire surface of the skin. Although it is rare for the entire body to be affected, many people will experience outbreaks in several areas at once.
The skin condition appears at first as small, red, raised bumps that will begin to spread across a localized region. As the flare-up continues, the bumps will start joining together and forming a silvery scale over the surface of the skin. These patches will often be extremely itchy and may result in pain if they become infected from over scratching. The plaques can also become flaky and leave layers of dead skin on clothes and across any surface that the patient touches.
Although the symptoms for chronic plaque psoriasis are mainly experienced as skin condition, the illness can still have a long term effect on overall wellness. Chronic plaque psoriasis does not affect longevity. However, the condition may be complicated by several health problems that come from the systemic influence of the illness, and these include malignancy, arthritis, and emotional distress from the cosmetic effects of the disease. Emotional responses such as depression, anxiety, and sexual should also be considered as symptoms, as they can present even in patients who have a mild form of the disease.
There is also an increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancers and lymphoma for patients with chronic plaque psoriasis. It is noted that the chance of developing these associated ailments is higher in patients with more severe expressions of the disease, and that treatment courses do not necessarily lessen this eventuality. However, even with the systemic nature of the illness, the general health outcomes for patients is very good, and control of outbreaks is a possibility for resuming regular lifestyle and improving quality of life.
In some cases, chronic plaque psoriasis is also linked to compounded conditions. Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory variation of the autoimmune disorder that expresses as both plaques and severe joint damage. The arthritis typically is asymmetric across the body and will involve the fingers and toes more so than other joints. General studies show that a third of patients with psoriasis also had arthritis and that the skin lesions appeared prior to the arthritic condition. However, the appearance of plaques is not always in the same area as the arthritis, although the skin condition does mark the expression of joint pain and stiffness.
Risk Factors for Chronic Plaque Psoriasis
Chronic plaque psoriasis is a hereditary disease, and cannot be contracted through any outside vectors. It generally follows a history in families, although some patients will experience more severe skin outbreaks, while other may only experience the arthritic condition. However, patients who do develop plaques can go through periods of remission that are marked by occasional flare-ups, and these can be triggered by internal or external mechanisms.
It is thought that environmental conditions do play a part in triggering a plaque outbreak. Airborne allergens, chemicals, and even lighting can trigger the immune system to perceive a danger where there is none. Once the immune system begins to release t-cells, then the rash of plaques will express through the skin.
Other triggers that are associated with flare-ups include:
- Exposure to certain viruses
As an autoimmune disease, chronic plaque psoriasis can be triggered by any condition that causes the immune system to activate. Once this has happened, the progression will continue until the body senses that any threat has passed.
Identifying Chronic Plaque Psoriasis
Although the rash and plaques are a major symptom for this illness, these can often be confused with other dermatological conditions, including eczema and general dermatitis. Physicians are able to perform a biopsy on the skin disturbance in order to fully identify the cause. This can be vitally necessary for treatment, as chronic plaque psoriasis can be managed through both topical agents and internally taken biologics.
Treatment of Chronic Plaque Psoriasis
Patients with this condition can utilize both topical applications that work directly on the skin plaques, or oral drugs that can offer a systemic result. Topical applications include:
- Vitamin D
- Coal tar
- Topical immune suppressants
This approach can relieve a great amount of the discomfort that is associated with an outbreak, and does have some result in reducing the appearance of the plaques. However, topical applications do not always address the full cause of the skin lesions, and this can lead to a less than optimal treatment plan. Topical applications are also associated with some side effects that can become especially pronounced through over usage of the treatment.
Oral drugs such as cyclosporine and retinoids have been shown as beneficial in controlling the condition. Injections of biologics have been used to good results for condition management, and have shown particular benefits over time, since it is corrective on a systemic level. Some patients may combine topical and systemic treatments for more immediate relief.