Dermatologists Offer Preventative and Reactive Care

Are Your Bumpy Elbows An Early Warning Sign For Psoriasis?

When you think about how to take better care of your skin, your elbows probably aren't the first part of your body that springs to mind. However, if you notice the skin on your elbows has become bumpy, dry, and irritated, this may be an early warning sign of psoriasis, a chronic skin condition that usually requires professional medical treatment.

What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder. Like all autoimmune disorders, it is caused by your body's immune system attacking healthy tissues. In this case, the white blood cells in your bloodstream that kill bacteria and other pathogens start sending chemical signals to your skin cells.

These signals make skin cells grow and mature more rapidly, and die more quickly. A healthy skin cell usually lasts about a month before it dies and is replaced, but skin cells affected by psoriasis grow, mature and die in the space of a few days. 

Psoriasis can affect almost any part of your skin, but usually strikes the elbow, knees, forearms, shins, scalp, fingers, and/or the skin around your belly button. If you notice bumps on your elbows, make sure to check for bumpy skin in these other areas.

Why Does Psoriasis Cause Bumpy Elbows?

If your skin cells are dying too quickly because of psoriasis, your body cannot dispose of the dead cells quickly enough, causing them to accumulate underneath the surface of your skin. These heaps of dead skin cells cause the surface of your skin to become rough, bumpy, and scaly. If you have fair skin, these bumps are usually noticeably red, while bumps on darker skin may be more purple in color.

Unfortunately, bumpy skin is only an early sign of psoriasis, and without professional medical treatment, your symptoms may become worse. Advanced psoriasis makes the affected skin extremely itchy, and it may start to crack and bleed. This cracked skin leaves you vulnerable to bacterial infections, and in rarer cases, serious blood infections.

How Is Elbow Psoriasis Treated?

If you notice bumpy skin on your elbows, or have any other symptoms of psoriasis, you should visit a dermatology clinic as soon as possible for a professional diagnosis. Other skin conditions, such as eczema and impetigo, can also cause bumpy elbow skin, so it is important to rule out other disorders before starting treatment.

Unfortunately, like most autoimmune disorders, psoriasis is incurable. However, it can be effectively kept under control with help from your dermatologist. Dermatologists can provide a range of treatments to relieve itchiness and irritation, and keep affected skin smooth and in good condition.

If you have mild to moderate psoriasis on your elbows or any other part of your body, it can usually be controlled using topical creams and ointments. These topical treatments contain medications that heal your skin and help your body dispose of dead skin cells, such as steroids, retinoids, and vitamin D3.

If your psoriasis is more severe, your dermatologist may recommend phototherapy. Your dermatologist will use specialized UV light lamps to treat the affected areas. UV exposure slows down your body's production of new skin cells and will prevent dead skin cells from accumulating and causing psoriasis symptoms.

You may also be prescribed oral medications if your psoriasis is severe. These immunosuppressive medications inhibit the signals your immune system sends to the affected skin cells, stopping them from maturing and dying too quickly.

Click here for more info about treatment options, or contact a dermatologist in your area.