Did you know that the skin is the largest organ in the human body? This means that it covers a large surface area, one that is around 20 to 22 square feet. It plays an important role in the healthy functioning of our body, such as acting as a barrier for microbes, regulating body temperature, etc.
This also means that the skin is susceptible to a variety of disorders and conditions. Health conditions that affect the skin tend to have both physical and psychological impacts. This is because the way these skin conditions appear on our face and body can lead to feelings of self-consciousness, distress, insecurity, anger, frustration, etc.
This is why skincare is often an important part of self-care because taking care of our skin can be a healing and relaxing process mentally, as well.
One of the many conditions which affect the skin is psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition which leads to a rapid build-up of skin cells, which causes scaling on the surface of the skin.
This scaling is typically accompanied by inflammation and reddening of the skin, as well. Though there are many kinds of psoriasis, one of the most common types of this condition is the appearance of thick, red patches of the skin which are covered in flaky, silvery scales.
However, psoriasis on the skin can vary depending on the colour of the skin. It is important to consider skin of all colours when it comes to talking about skin conditions, instead of only focusing on one type. In this article, we are going to talk about the appearance and spread of psoriasis on black skin vs white skin.
Psoriasis on the skin: Types and causes
Before knowing about the different effects on psoriasis on skin of colour vs white skin, we must first discuss the various types of psoriasis. There are several kinds of psoriasis on the skin, which each have their signs and symptoms. The seven types of psoriasis on the skin include:
- Plaque Psoriasis: 8 in 10 people usually have this type of psoriasis and it results in raised, inflamed, red skin which is covered by silvery-white scales. This can affect the areas of the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp.
- Guttate Psoriasis: This happens in less than 2% of psoriasis cases and usually starts in children or young adults. In this, small pink dots appear on areas of your body such as the trunk, upper arms, scalp and thighs.
- Inverse Psoriasis: This is characterized by patches of skin that are bright red, shiny and smooth, devoid of scales. This often appears on skinfolds, such as the areas under the breast, in the armpits, the groin, etc.
- Pustular Psoriasis: This type of psoriasis on the skin is uncommon and happens mostly in adults. It results in pus-filled bumps surrounded by red skin, usually appearing on one area of the body, such as the hands and feet. In extreme cases, it can spread all over the body, requiring urgent medical care.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis: This is the least common type of psoriasis on the skin, but is very serious when it occurs. It leads to widespread, fiery skin that appears burnt, covering most of the body, needing immediate medical assistance.
- Nail Psoriasis: In this, psoriasis affects nails, resulting in tender, painful nails, pitting of nails, separation of the nail from the nail bed, color changes, etc.
- Psoriatic Arthritis: In this condition, a person has both psoriasis and arthritis (joint inflammation) together. This results in symptoms such as sausage-like swelling of fingers and toes, painful and stiff joints in the morning and after rest, etc.
Thus, there are different types of psoriasis on the skin, which can have several causes such as infections like strep throat, weather, smoking, stress, injury, certain medications, heavy alcohol consumption, etc. A family history of psoriasis also tends to put one at more risk.
Psoriasis on black skin vs white skin
The prevalence of psoriasis is different when it comes to different skin colours. The prevalence of psoriasis in white people is around 2.5% and around 1.3% in African-American.
Around one-third of people who have psoriasis also have a relative who is suffering from the same condition. Hence, while the condition is not contagious, genetics act as a risk factor in acquiring it.
Appearance: The appearance psoriasis changes with the colour of the skin, such as those with darker skin possibly coming from Asian, Middle-Eastern, African, Hispanic or Native American backgrounds. This is because the skin of colour has high melanin content as compared to white skin, which affects the way certain conditions look on the skin.
Psoriasis on white skin appears as pink or reddish patches with silver-grey scaling while psoriasis on black skin appears more as purple or dark brown patches with grey scales.
This means that it can be harder to detect this condition for those with darker skin colours because the colour of the patches and scaling tends to get camouflaged. Thus, there could be a lack of proper diagnosis for those with darker skin, which may affect the spread and severity of the condition.
Severity: The severity on psoriasis on black skin vs white skin is also different. Psoriasis on skin of colour may be more widespread, with Asians and Africans possibly having greater surface area involvement.
Healing: Along with this, the healing of the symptoms psoriasi on white skin as compared to that of darker skin is also different. When psoriasis plaques clear on darker skin, the affected area can appear darker or lighter than it was before, sometimes lasting for months or longer, which can cause a lot of psychological distress to the person.
Psychological Effects: The mental effects of psoriasis on skin of colour is also severe when compared to psoriasis on white skin. This is because of a lot of misconceptions and stigmas related to psoriasis, which can be worse when it occurs with people of colour, which can affect the quality of life.
Hence, when considering a skin condition such as psoriasis, it is important to look at all skin tones and give appropriate care and attention to the needs of each.
Managing your Psoriasis and practicing self-care
Though psoriasis is a lifelong condition, there are many ways to manage it, such as light therapy, oral medications, creams, etc. These can be paired with healthy lifestyle changes such as taking regular baths, avoiding triggers, cutting back on the alcohol even trying psoriasis detox diets. You will be able to soothe the symptoms and keep this condition under control, so you can feel comfortable in your body once again.
If you have psoriasis, don’t shame yourself over it. This condition is not caused by poor hygiene skills, so it does not reflect your self-care methods. Try not to fall into the clutches of misconceptions and stigma. Instead, remember that what you need most at the moment are own your love and support. You are still the person you were before your diagnosis and you are just as worthy of beauty.
Remember that though it shows up on your skin, psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. This means that your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells as if attacking outsiders. Thus, it is just your body trying to take care of itself, albeit the wrong way. If you stress yourself over it and inhabit a negative space mentally, it can make these symptoms even worse, trapping you in a vicious cycle.
While it is natural to feel those flares of insecurity, try to focus on all the ways your body heals, no matter how many times the symptoms come back. It’s stubborn and resilient, trying its best to fight this condition. This means that every organ, every bone, every cell inside you is a fighter—and so are you!