What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a disease whose main symptom is gray or silvery flaky patches on the skin which are red and inflamed underneath when scratched. In the United States, it affects 2 to 2.6 percent of the population, or between 5.8 and 7.5 million people. Commonly affected areas include the scalp, elbows, knees, navel, palms, ears and groin. Psoriasis is autoimmune
in origin, and is not contagious. Around a quarter of people with psoriasis also suffer from psoriatic arthritis, which is similar to rheumatoid arthritis in its effects.
Psoriasis commonly occurs on pressure points such as the elbows, knees, and knuckles, as well as on the scalp, the trunk, the arms and legs, the external sex organs, and the fingernails and toenails. The severity of psoriasis varies widely. The most common pattern is for the disease to be limited to certain parts of the body but to recur (come back) frequently. Once someone has had a flare-up of psoriasis, the chances are nine out of 10 that the disease will recur. Psoriasis that begins earlier in life tends to be more severe and persistent. Usually people with psoriasis are otherwise healthy and feel well. However, if psoriasis affects large areas of the skin, it can seriously interfere with a person's ability to function normally. The thick, flaky patches of skin are often disfiguring and can be itchy or painful. If the hands or feet are affected, a person may have difficulty walking or holding a job. Caring for psoriasis is a daily, time-consuming process.
Psoriasis is an unpredictable condition that can sometimes flare up for no apparent reason. The course of the disease can be different in every individual who has it. People with psoriasis commonly go through periods of embarrassment, frustration, and depression about their condition. Because psoriasis affects exposed skin, it is a highly visible disease
When psoriasis develops, patches of skin thicken, redden, and become covered with silvery scales. These patches are sometimes referred to as plaques. They may itch or burn. The skin at joints may crack. Psoriasis most often occurs on the elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, face, palms, and soles of the feet. The disease also may affect the fingernails, toenails, and the soft tissues inside the mouth and genitalia. About 10 percent of people with psoriasis have joint inflammation that produces symptoms of arthritis. This condition is called psoriatic arthritis.
More information on psoriasis
What is psoriasis? - Psoriasis is a disease whose main symptom is gray or silvery flaky patches on the skin which are red and inflamed underneath when scratched.
What types of psoriasis are there? - Types of psoriasis include plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis, flexural psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and nail psoriasis.
What causes psoriasis? - Psoriasis is driven by the immune system. Psoriasis is the growth of too many skin cells. The first outbreak of psoriasis is often triggered by emotional or mental stress or physical skin injury.
How is psoriasis diagnosed? - Physicians diagnose psoriasis by examining the affected skin. In people with psoriatic arthritis, the arthritis usually follows the appearance of psoriasis.
What triggers psoriasis? - Psoriasis triggers include streptococcal infection, sun exposure, drug reactions, hormonal factors, psychological factors, and skin trauma.
What are the psoriasis symptoms? - Symptoms depend on the type of psoriasis the individual has and may include bright red areas of raised patches (plaques) on the skin, tiny areas of bleeding, and itching.
What are the psoriasis risk factors? - The risks associated with developing psoriasis are similar to the triggers of the disease. The most significant risk factor for psoriasis is a family history of the condition.
What is the treatment for psoriasis? - The treatment is chosen on the basis of the pattern of psoriasis and its severity. Treatments for psoriasis can often control the disease for long periods.
What is the topical treatment for psoriasis? - Some patients with psoriasis respond well to ointment or cream forms of corticosteroids, vitamin D3, retinoids, coal tar, or anthralin. The medication that is best may depend on the type and location of the psoriasis.
What is the phototherapy treatment for psoriasis? - Phototherapy treatment for psoriasis uses ultraviolet (UV) light to kill T cells in skin, reducing redness and slowing the overproduction of skin cells that causes scaling.
What is the systemic treatment for psoriasis? - Systemic treatment for psoriasis involves taking medicines internally by pill or injection. Systemic psoriasis treatment drugs include methotrexate, retinoids, cyclosporine.
What is plaque psoriasis? - Plaque psoriasis can is a disease with very clearly defined area of skin which has a raised, red and inflamed section of skin covered in silvery scales.
What is guttate psoriasis? - Guttate psoriasis is a type of psoriasis that looks like small, salmon-pink drops on the skin. Guttate psoriasis is characterised by multiple tiny areas of psoriasis.
What is flexural psoriasis? - Flexural psoriasis is a form of psoriasis found in the armpits, groin, under the breasts and in other flexion creases (skin folds) such as those around the genitals and buttocks.
What is pustular psoriasis? - Pustular psoriasis is an uncommon form of psoriasis. People with pustular psoriasis have clearly defined, raised bumps on the skin that are filled with pus (pustules).
What is erythrodermic psoriasis? - Erythrodermic psoriasis is a particularly inflammatory form of psoriasis that often affects most of the body surface. Erythroderma is a generalised redness of the skin.
What is scalp psoriasis? - Scalp psoriasis range from very mild with fine scaling to very severe with thick, crusted plaques. Scalp psoriasis scales appear powdery with a silvery sheen.