What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that produces inflamed, red areas of skin or silvery scales.

Researchers believe it is most likely caused by abnormally fast-growing and shedding skin cells.

There are five main forms of psoriasis:

  • Plaque (discoid) psoriasis: The most common form and typically is characterized by patches of raised, red skin covered in a layer of silvery white dead skin appearing on the arms, legs, knees, elbows and scalp.
  • Guttate psoriasis: Most common in children and characterized by small, pink-red spots. It can be brought on by a strep infection.
  • Inverse (flexural or intertriginous) psoriasis: Usually seen as smooth, shiny red lesions in body folds, like the groin, under arm area or behind your knees.
  • Pustular psoriasis: This type of psoriasis produces pus-filled blisters surrounded by reddish-colored skin, usually on the palms of the hands and soles of your feet.
  • Erythrodermic (exfoliative) psoriasis: This rare form of psoriasis produces widespread rash with severe itching and pain with your skin becoming very red and peeling off in large pieces.

Psoriasis affects men and women equally, and typically begins showing up between the ages of 15 and 35 or between 50 and 69.

Signs and Symptoms of Psoriasis

The symptoms of psoriasis depend on the type of psoriasis you may have with all types involving some patches or spots of inflamed and red skin across various area of your skin.

Some other symptoms of Psoriasis include:

  • Layers of silver or white skin, made up of dead skin cells
  • Very dry skin
  • Cracking and bleeding skin
  • Smooth, shiny red skin
  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Intense itching
  • Pain, tenderness or a stinging sensation
  • Shedding of sheets of skin
  • Irritation in certain areas like the knees, elbows, hands, nails, feet, scalp, lower back and genitals

Causes of Psoriasis

While the exact cause of psoriasis isn’t known, we do know it’s related to a malfunction of the immune system that causes skin to grow and shed at an abnormally fast rate. In addition, we also know that genetics play a role, meaning that if you have it, there is a good chance someone else in your family has it too.

Many types of psoriasis have triggers that may set off an episode. They include:

  • Stress
  • Strep throat
  • Respiratory infection, earache or bronchitis
  • Medication
  • Sunburn
  • Cold, dry weather
  • A cut or scratch

Psoriasis Treatments

True, there is no cure for psoriasis, but it can be well controlled with appropriate treatment and working to avoid the triggers.

Our treatment options for psoriasis include:

  • Moisturizing ointments and creams
  • Controlled exposure to sunlight
  • Steroid and anti-inflammatory medication
  • Certain specialty drugs that prevent the growth of skin cells
  • Immunosuppressant agents