Plaque psoriasis is a common skin condition in seniors. Knowing how to identify and treat it can help relieve uncomfortable symptoms.
Plaque psoriasis, the most common form affecting seniors, causes areas of thick, inflamed skin covered with silvery-white plaques. It typically first appears as scaly, raised skin patches called plaques on areas like the scalp, elbows, knees, lower back, and genitals. In some cases, only a few small plaques that are no bigger than a dime develop. Large plaques can cover multiple joints or the trunk in more severe cases.
The plaques are often itchy or sore and may crack and bleed if scratched—the built-up skin flakes off the plaques regularly, which may bleed slightly. Recognizing the typical physical manifestations and patterns of plaque psoriasis assists with prompt diagnosis and treatment.
While the exact cause of psoriasis is not fully understood, it is believed to be an autoimmune disorder caused by dysfunction in the immune system. In the case of psoriasis, the overactive immune cells trigger skin cells to regenerate and replicate at a vastly accelerated rate – up to 10 times faster than usual. This rapid buildup and shedding of skin cells accumulate into inflamed, scaly plaques faster than the body can clear them. Genetics plays a role, as psoriasis often runs in families.
While the underlying autoimmune dysfunction causes psoriasis, specific triggers are known to exacerbate symptoms or prompt flare-ups. These include emotional stress, smoking, cold, dry weather, skin cuts or scratches that disrupt the skin barrier, and infections that activate the immune system. However, plaques can develop without any specific trigger as well. Although not contagious, insight into the causes and triggers aids in more effective treatment.
Recognizing the most common physical symptoms is critical to identifying plaque psoriasis. The primary diagnostic sign is silvery-white, dry, inflamed lesions covered with thick, scaly skin buildup – the plaques above. While plaques can occur anywhere, seniors’ most commonly affected areas are the scalp, elbows, knees, lower back, nails, and genitals.
Look for distinct raised, scaly plaques ranging from a few spots the size of a dime to more extensive, thicker plaques covering multiple joints or the trunk. The lesions may be itchy and painful or crack open and bleed if scratched. Carefully noting all physical symptoms supports the diagnosis of plaque psoriasis and severity assessment.
If you suspect you may have developed plaque psoriasis based on the symptoms, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist for a professional evaluation. A dermatologist has specialized expertise in diagnosing and treating skin conditions like psoriasis. They will examine your skin and ask questions about your symptoms and family history.
To confirm plaque psoriasis, they may order a skin lesion biopsy, which can help rule out other potential skin disorders with similar symptoms. If plaque psoriasis is approved, the dermatologist will work with you to determine appropriate treatment options based on severity.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but many effective treatments exist to control symptoms, reduce flare-ups, and improve quality of life. Topical treatments like medicated creams, gels, and ointments are typically the first line of defense. More severe or resistant psoriasis may require systemic oral medications or injections to reduce inflammation and skin cell growth from the inside out.
Work collaboratively with your dermatologist to find the best treatment solutions, given your health status and type of psoriasis. You may need to try different remedies to keep symptoms in check. But the proper treatment regime can significantly improve comfort.
Plaque psoriasis is a common chronic autoimmune skin disorder affecting many seniors. Being able to recognize its distinct manifestations allows for prompt diagnosis and treatment. With guidance from a knowledgeable dermatologist, safe, effective therapies can be found to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Specific supportive lifestyle measures like moisturizing, managing stress, and quitting smoking reinforce treatment. While plaque psoriasis cannot be cured, the condition can be controlled with vigilant self-care and medical oversight. Seeking proper care is vital in reducing flare-ups and living comfortably.