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What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common, chronic, immune-mediated inflammatory disease that primarily involves the skin.
Although the systemic nature of psoriasis often remains unrecognized, the inflammatory processes involved may be associated with the development of comorbidities, meaning having more than one medical condition at the same time, such as metabolic diseases, psychological disorders and cardiovascular diseases and risk factors, which are higher in people with psoriasis.
Afflicting people of all ages, psoriasis usually first appears in early adulthood and is lifelong. There are several types of psoriasis, from mild, which affects small areas of skin, to severe, which covers the entire surface of the skin. Not only does psoriasis cause physical and social discomfort, studies show that it can affect the quality of life of people living with the disease and their relatives.
The burden of living with psoriasis is often underestimated, and those with psoriasis have a higher risk of depression and anxiety than the average population. It can have a significant impact on a people’s quality of life.
The exact cause of psoriasis has not yet been determined; however it is thought to be related to a problem with the immune system. The immune system is your body’s defense against disease and infection, but for people with psoriasis, it attacks healthy skin cells by mistake.
An integrated approach to psoriasis care, addressing the chronic burden of disease on each individual’s life, is essential to relieve people living with the disease and reduce the use of healthcare resources.
Psoriasis can be managed using topical treatment, which nowadays, come in a variety of formulations such as creams, ointments or gels, to meet each individual’s preferences.
Depending on the extension and severity of the disease, other treatment options are photo-therapy with ultraviolet radiation or systemic therapy (e.g. tablets) and biologic treatments (via injections) are also available to treat psoriasis.
What is atopic eczema?
A genetically determined skin disease, atopic eczema is a malfunction in the upper layer of the skin that usually first appears during early childhood. Although it often clears up before adulthood, some people live with the condition for life. With proper advice and support, these people can manage the disease and avoid much physical and social discomfort.
Common symptoms include an itchy rash, dry skin, redness and inflammation. Constant scratching can cause the skin to crack, leaving it vulnerable to infection. Some people experience atopic eczema as a succession of flare-ups and remissions; others have it almost constantly.
Allergic reactions to chemicals, metals and plants can cause the skin to flare up and make atopic eczema worse. Eczema can also be exacerbated if it becomes infected with the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Apart from allergens and bacterial infections, atopic eczema can be triggered or worsened by stress, or by seasonal climate changes such as the shift from summer to autumn when the air becomes drier.
It is important to remember that atopic eczema normally has a good prognosis. As part of the treatment, general measures such as avoiding irritants and excessive heat and using emollients to moisturize the skin are important to minimize the itch.
Topical steroids or combinations with topical antibiotics are often used to treat eczema. In very severe cases, light therapy or systemic treatment may apply.
What is actinic keratosis?
Actinic keratoses (also called solar keratoses) often appear as scaly patches. They can vary greatly in size, shape and colour, but are usually less than 1cm across with a scaly white surface. However, it can be red, pink, skin coloured, or a combination of these. The patch might feel rough and sandpapery, which often makes it easier to feel than see.
Actinic keratoses develop as a result of long term sun exposure and are a precursor to skin cancer. They can be found anywhere on the body, but some of the most common sites are those regularly exposed to the sun including the face, scalp, lips, forearms and backs of hands.
Anyone can have sun damaged skin but if you are fair skinned, burn easily in the sun, use sun beds or have spent a lot of time outdoors you are at particularly high risk of actinic keratosis. People who have a weakened immune system, for example due to organ transplant, are also more at risk.
Actinic keratoses may regress and may develop into skin cancer but it is impossible to tell which patches have the potential to become cancerous so it is important to treat all actinic keratoses. A range of treatment options are available for actinic keratoses and it is important to discuss these options with your healthcare professional prior to receiving treatment. Actinic keratoses can be cleared with field directed therapy including topical treatments and lesion specific therapy.
What is acne?
Acne is a common chronic skin disease. In fact, approximately eight out of 10 people will have to deal with it at some point in their life. Acne can also leave scars on the skin for many people with moderate to severe cases. The condition doesn’t always end when the teen years do; it can continue into adulthood. Females are often more affected during adulthood due to hormonal changes. The disease can be hard to manage, both physically and emotionally, and improving the condition can be challenging. Living with acne can impact the quality of life.
Researchers believe acne is caused by a combination of four events: excess secretion of sebum, overgrowth and plugging of follicles or pores, the presence of bacteria and inflammation. Hormonal changes in the body may worsen acne. This can cause the glands containing hair follicles to grow larger and over-produce oil. Unfortunately, a range of myths relates to acne and the causes of acne. There is no clear evidence to suggest that acne is caused by eating greasy foods or by not washing your face or body enough. Hormonal changes in the body may worsen acne.
Many acne cases are traditionally treated with either self-care products, conventional oral and topical antibiotic of various strength or systemic therapies. Medical devices such as laser, light and BioPhotonics are other treatment options that can be used.