Psoriasis is an uncomfortable skin condition that causes a person to develop patches of dry, scaly skin on their body. It is believed to be caused by uncontrolled inflammation from an overactive immune system. Usually, inflammation begins whenever the body has sustained some type of trauma or infection. Then, when the body is healed, it stops. However, if there is an autoimmune disorder present, then the immune system will malfunction, which leads to the healthy tissue being attacked instead. At first, those who have psoriasis only have their skin affected by the inflammation. But after the condition has continued for ten years or so, it is common for a secondary condition called psoriatic arthritis to begin. This type of arthritis can lead to permanent damage of the joints, so it is important to understand the symptoms and treatment options that are available for the condition.
Some research has shown that psoriatic arthritis may begin because of a genetic predisposition since those who have it often have a close relative with the condition too. The actual trigger that causes the sudden inflammation of the joints to begin after a person has suffered from psoriasis on their skin for years is unknown though. Age also seems to play a factor since psoriatic arthritis occurs mainly in adults who are about 50 years old.
Some of the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are similar to other types of arthritis. For example, a person will develop joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. There are a few characteristics of the disorder that doctors can use to more easily diagnose it though. For example, a person with psoriatic arthritis will have a specific kind of sausage-like swelling in their fingers if these joints are affected. And one hand may not have any swelling at all because the condition can cause localized inflammation. If the fingernails are examined, they will appear to have deep pits in them. Some fingernails may be pulled away from the nail bed or be entirely absent from falling off over time. Lastly, there will be a visible disfigurement of the affected joints and a rash over the skin.
Treating psoriatic arthritis usually starts with over-the-counter medications to get the inflammation that is causing it under control. If this doesn't work, then other medications or injections may be offered. The injections are inserted directly into the affected joints though. This can be quite painful. So some people with this condition choose to use a cream that can be absorbed through the skin instead. The area where the cream is applied should be approved by a doctor though because it could interfere with other topical medications that a person is taking for their psoriasis skin condition. That is because the psoriasis ointments that are commonly prescribed can only be used on areas where there is flaking, redness, and itchy skin. If they are applied to healthy skin, they can be very irritating.