Psoriasis is always an uncomfortable health issue, but it is exceptionally bothersome when it involves the feet, as it can hinder your ability to carry out daily tasks. Experiencing loss of balance and limited mobility due to psoriasis can have a negative effect on both your personal and professional lives. Get ahead of this debilitating condition by knowing the cause, symptoms, and treatment options.
What Is Foot Psoriasis?
Foot psoriasis is called palmoplantar psoriasis. For our own function and protection, our hands and feet are very sensitive. The sensory neurons, which are designed to trigger pain sensation, cluster at the tips of our toes, as well as being packed tightly among bone and muscle throughout our feet. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that inflames these neurons, causing pain and visible damage to the skin due to internal inflammation. Among those living with psoriasis, 12 to 16 percent have palmoplantar psoriasis.
What Causes Palmoplantar Psoriasis?
While psoriasis is still a bit of a mystery to doctors, we do know that it is an autoimmune disease. Since genetic, environmental, and physical factors can all cause an autoimmune reaction, there are several suspected causes of palmoplantar psoriasis.
Environmental causes are likely related to exposure to elements and chemicals particular to certain lifestyles and professions. This can include:
- Household work
- Farm work
- Manual labor
- Exposure to chemical irritants like detergents and cleaning supplies
- Exposure to known allergens
When it comes to the feet, many of the environmental risks listed above can be avoided by wearing proper footwear while at work or interacting with irritants. Unfortunately, the physical causes of palmoplantar psoriasis are not so easy to avoid. These include:
- Sweat gland issues
- Thyroid disease
- Gluten sensitivity
- Type 1 diabetes
People with diabetes are an exceptionally noteworthy demographic when it comes to psoriasis risk, as they are more likely to incur stress and injury to their feet without immediately realizing it due to neuropathy. This can potentially cause psoriasis to go untreated for a longer period of time and lead to a more difficult battle for recovery.
What Are the Symptoms of Palmoplantar Psoriasis?
The main symptom of psoriasis is itchy, scaly, inflamed skin. It can also cause painful and swollen joints. Those with palmoplantar psoriasis will usually not have any evidence of skin disease elsewhere. On your feet, you may notice:
- Silver-colored scales
- Dry and cracking skin
- Continuous itching or burning
- Thickened toenails
- Depressions or pits in the nails
- Swollen or stiff joints
How Is Palmoplantar Psoriasis Treated?
Treatment for psoriasis is not a one-size-fits-all process. However, there are several remedies doctors can prescribe.
Topical skin medications, in addition to mild soap and moisturizers, can calm psoriasis-inflamed feet. These include:
- Cool tar products designed to slow skin growth and ease discomfort
- Salicylic acid, which will help exfoliate scales that have formed on the skin
- Corticosteroids, which will reduce inflammation and itching
These ointments are often prescribed in combination instead of as a standalone treatment. There are also oral medications that can ease psoriasis, including:
- Cyclosporine to slow down the immune system’s activity level
- Low-dose retinoid to reduce the multiplication of cells
- Methotrexate, which targets an enzyme that causes rapid skin growth
Light therapy is another treatment your doctor might recommend. This might be phototherapy via laser treatment or a UVB light treatment.
While professional medical intervention is almost always needed at some point to control palmoplantar psoriasis, there are steps you can also take at home to ease your discomfort and help resolve it.
- Wash your feet gently in warm water. Avoid hot water.
- Cover your feet in petroleum jelly and then put on cotton socks to allow the jelly a chance to absorb
- Wear quality shoes with appropriate support. This is especially important in the instance of a medical complication like diabetes, where blood flow is already limited, and the feet are at risk of injury.
- Spend time outside. Expose your feet to sunshine in a clean, temperate environment. Ultraviolet rays can help calm symptoms.
When Should I Seek Formal Medical Psoriasis Treatment?
Whether it’s your first time experiencing psoriasis or you have been living with flare-ups for a while, it is always appropriate to see a doctor. Choosing to see an experienced podiatrist as early as possible can reduce your symptoms and spare you much discomfort. Some health conditions paired with psoriasis can also cause more serious complications, which can be avoided by consulting with a qualified professional.
At Instride Carolina Podiatry Group, we have the answers you are looking for. You can trust our staff to be knowledgeable and to place you on the appropriate path toward healing and reclaiming your life. Contact us today for an appointment.