Itchy, Flaky Skin
Itchy, flaky skin that occurs on a regular basis may be the result of a common skin condition known as psoriasis. According to the National Institutes of Health, psoriasis affects approximately 3 percent of the population in the United States. Learning how to recognize the signs of psoriasis and effectively manage your condition can ease your symptoms and help you cope with the complications that come with it.
Psoriasis is a malfunction of the immune system, when what are known as T cells -- which normally help fight off viruses and bacteria -- attack your skin cells. As a result, your body begins to produce skins cells at an abnormally rapid rate, which move to the surface of your skin, shed themselves and cause redness, itching and flaky skin.
Psoriasis usually manifests itself as red, scaly patches on any part of your body. These patches may come and go, or "flare up" depending on external factors such as the moisture or dryness in the air, stress and sunlight. Besides itchy, flaky skin, psoriasis may cause a dry, itchy scalp, genital lesions in men, thickening or separation of the nails on the hands and feet and even joint pain and aching.
Besides the physical effects, psoriasis can take a mental or emotional toll on a person who suffers from it. Many people with psoriasis feel self-conscious or otherwise unable to leave their home because of the appearance or discomfort of their skin. According to MedlinePlus, as many as 30 percent of people with psoriasis may also suffer from arthritis, because the same cells that attack the skin also affect joints.
While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are things you can do to help prevent flare-ups and manage your condition when flare-ups do occur. Prescription medication from your doctor containing hormones may help lessen the effect of the T cells attacking your skin. Topical ointments, lotions and creams may also help manage your symptoms of itching and irritation as well as help your skin from shedding as much. Vitamins D and A may also play a role in helping manage your psoriasis symptoms.
Taking an oatmeal bath may be an effective way to soothe your skin if you suffer from psoriasis, according to MedlinePlus. The oatmeal can help loosen the scales on your skin without scratching. Your doctor may also prescribe medicines that help suppress your immune system.
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