What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease affecting 2 to 3 percent of the population. Typically, infections cause your body to fight against foreign bacteria or viruses. Autoimmune diseases cause your body to overreact and attack itself. In other words, your body thinks its own cells are dangerous, so it tries to destroy them. As a result, your body destroys or damages perfectly healthy cells.
Psoriasis is also a chronic condition. After the symptoms first appear and you're diagnosed, you'll deal with the condition for the rest of your life. The most common symptoms of psoriasis include:
- red, inflamed patches of skin
- whitish-silvery scales, also known as plaques
- cracked skin that may bleed or ooze
- burning, itching, and soreness
- swollen, stiff joints
- thick, ridged nails
Fortunately, you may not always show symptoms of psoriasis. That's because psoriasis comes and goes in cycles. Psoriasis may be active, or flare, for a period, and then your condition may improve, or go into remission. Each person's cycle is different, but most people can follow the same tips to make remission periods as long and successful as possible.
What Can You Expect During Psoriasis Remission?
For some people, psoriasis remission means your skin will clear almost entirely. You won't show any physical symptoms of psoriasis. More severe cases of psoriasis can cause scarring. Even during a remission, those scars may remain. Symptoms won't be triggered by the presence of these scars.
Symptoms may not disappear for everyone. For some people, symptoms may subside enough to no longer be bothersome. This may still be classified as remission depending on your experience and history with psoriasis.
Possible Causes for Psoriasis Remission
The goal of psoriasis treatment is to reduce the symptoms and hopefully end the flare. If treatments are successful, psoriasis may go into remission.
Even without treatment, psoriasis may disappear. Spontaneous remission, or remission that occurs without treatment, is also possible. In that case, it's likely your immune system turned off its attack on your body. This allows the symptoms to fade.
This doesn't mean that you won't ever have another flare. Watch for symptoms of psoriasis so that you can begin treating them if they reappear.
Is There a Timeline for Psoriasis Remission?
Psoriasis is unpredictable, and psoriasis remission has no timeline. Sometimes, remission can be lengthy. You may not experience symptoms for months, even years. Remission can also be short-lived. You may start experiencing symptoms again within a few weeks of them disappearing.
One common psoriasis cycle involves having fewer symptoms and flares during summer months and more symptoms and flares during winter months. That's likely because of how the two very different environments affect your skin. The weather in these two seasons can trigger psoriasis symptoms. Being aware of these triggers and others can help you reduce flare frequency and extend remission periods.
The Most Common Psoriasis Triggers
Although psoriasis may return on its own, something may prod its return. These things are called triggers. Being aware of the most common ones can help you reduce the likelihood of flares and possibly extend periods of remission.
For some people, overwhelming or unusually high stress can turn up disease activity. Find ways to relax and manage your stress levels to keep psoriasis from flaring.
The dry, cold environment of winter is harsh for most people's skin. It's even worse for delicate skin that's prone to psoriasis flares. During colder months, keep your skin hydrated and moisturized with lotions and creams.
Just as winter's cold weather can cause a flare, summer's bright sun can, too. Too much sunlight can cause skin damage or a skin burn. This can trigger a flare.
Some people react well to small bits of sunlight for treating their psoriasis, but it's important you work with a doctor to decide how you can sun yourself safely to prevent a flare.
When you shower, avoid scrubbing with sponges or towels. Being rough on your skin may invite a flare. Instead, gently wash and lather your body and then towel dry your skin.
If you have a weakened immune system, you may experience more flares and fewer remissions than other individuals with psoriasis. Bacterial and viral infections, such as chronic strep throat or HIV, can trigger flares.
An Unhealthy Lifestyle
Smoking, alcohol consumption, and obesity are three of the most common triggers. Taking care of your body includes:
- kicking your tobacco habit
- eating a healthy diet
- getting more exercise
- trying to avoid infections or illnesses
Many treatments are successful at both easing the symptoms of psoriasis and helping bring about remission. With your doctor's help, you can find a treatment course that's right for you. If and when a flare occurs, you'll feel fully prepared to tackle it and meet the returning symptoms with confidence.