What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a condition that can cause patches of red or whitish-silver, itchy dry skin anywhere on the body. These patches are called “plaques” and are typically found on the following areas: knees, elbows and bottoms of the feet.
The patches are caused by faster-than-normal turnover of skin cells. Normally, new skin cells rise to the surface of the skin once a month; the old surface skin cells die and slough off while the new cells are moving to the surface. In people who have psoriasis, the new cells move to the surface so rapidly that the dead cells build up on the surface, unable to fall off in time, creating plaques. These patches can be found in 1-2 places on the body, or in more severe cases, all over the body.
Who is at risk for Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease so it can affect anyone at anytime. Typically, though, it runs in families or affects individuals with a weakened immune system (e.g. Those undergoing chemotherapy or with a condition such as Cancer, AIDs, Diabetes, etc). For those living with psoriasis, stress can make the condition worse.
How does Psoriasis affect your feet?
The itchy plaques can be present on the soles of your feet and make walking uncomfortable. This can change the way you walk and lead to pain in nearby joints.
Psoriasis can also affect your toenails by changing the way they look and causing discomfort. Psoriatic toenails are thin, weak, brittle, have indentations (called “pitting”) and can discolour to yellow or brown.
Besides skin and nail changes, psoriasis can affect joints – we call this Psoriatic Arthritis. With psoriatic arthritis, there is inflammation of joints involved. We typically see the smaller foot joints most affected, especially those in the toes. The inflammation of toe joints causes toes to swell and the appearance of a swollen “sausage toe” (called “dactylitis”) is one of the key features of this disease.
There are many conditions that can cause dry, itchy skin on the feet and even some medications. So it’s important to visit your family doctor to determine if psoriasis is the cause. If you are experiencing foot or joint discomfort, you are best advised to visit a BioPed lower limb clinician to determine the best courses of treatment. Our Certified Pedorthists are experts in relieving foot, ankle and knee pain. For patients with psoriatic arthritis, we can offer relief by modifying shoes to offer more comfort. Some individuals may require a medical device to relieve painful joints and help delay progression of the joint disease.
In select clinics, BioPed Chiropodists and Footcare Nurses are available to treat the skin and nail concerns that are characteristic of psoriasis.