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Psoriasis is a chronic, non-contagious disease that can cause inflammation and scaling of the skin.


What is Psoriasis?


Psoriasis occurs when skin cells resurface more rapidly in some areas and there is inflammation, causing pink scaly lesions. Patients suffering from psoriasis may notice periods of improvement and relapse. There are many types of psoriasis, and more than one may be present:


  • Plaque psoriasis: Most common type of psoriasis with pink scaly plaques. Commonly involves the scalp and extensor surfaces such as the elbows, knees, and lower back (but can involve any part of the body).

  • Pustular psoriasis: Pink scaly lesions may be accompanies pustules and red bumps. Pustules may be commonly seen on the palms and soles of the feet.

  • Guttate psoriasis: Results in small scaly spots, often preceded by a cold or infections. Often self-limited and may improve on its own within weeks to months (although some cases may progress to plaque psoriasis).

  • Inverse psoriasis: Commonly involves the skin folds such the underarms or genital.

  • Erythrodermic psoriasis: Severe inflammatory form of psoriasis which can involve the majority of the skin.


Signs of Psoriasis


The symptoms experienced may vary depending on the type of psoriasis. However, some common signs may include:


  • Patches of red and/or scaly skin: These patches can appear anywhere but are most common on the elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp.

  • Itching or Burning:  Depending on the severity, psoriasis can range from being a nuisance to very irritating and painful.

  • Dry or Cracked Skin:  There may be bleeding as well if the skin is severely dry or cracked.

  • Joint Pain:  Psoriasis can appear in conjunction with arthritis. Thirty percent of patients with psoriasis may gradually develop arthritis of the joints.


Based on specific symptoms, your dermatologist will be able to determine which type of psoriasis is present and develop an individualized treatment plan.


Preventing Psoriatic Flare-Ups


Psoriasis is a chronic condition, but understanding triggers can help reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups:


  • Smoking

  • Alcohol consumption

  • Stress

  • Trauma and wounds to the skin

  • Severe dry skin


Treating Psoriasis


Your dermatologist may use prescription creams or ointments, light therapy, and/or systemic medications (oral medications or injections) to treat and suppress psoriatic flare-ups.


  • Topical ointments and creams are directly applied to the skin. They may be used alone to treat mild cases or included with light and/or systemic medications for more severe flare-ups.

  • Light therapy may include natural and/or artificial ultraviolet (UV) light. Depending on the treatment recommended it may be conducted in the dermatology clinic or at home.

  • Systemic medications can be used for severe or resistant psoriasis.


Psoriasis may also be present with other major health issues, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc.  For that reason, regular health screenings are important for patients with psoriasis.

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