Psoriasis (say “suh-RY-uh-sus”) is a chronic disease that causes skin cells to grow too quickly, resulting in thick, white, silvery, or red patches of skin. It develops when a person’s immune system sends faulty signals that cause skin cells to grow too quickly. New skin cells form in days rather than weeks. The body does not shed these excess skin cells. The skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin, causing patches of it to appear.
Normally, skin cells grow gradually and flake off about every 4 weeks. New skin cells grow to replace the outer layers of the skin as they shed.
But in it, new skin cells move rapidly to the surface of the skin in days rather than weeks. They build up and form thick patches called plaques. The patches range in size from small to large. They most often appear on the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet, or lower back.
it is most common in adults. But children and teens can get it too. To read more about it click here.
Following are the most common types:
Some people get more than one type. Sometimes a person gets one type of it, and then the type of it changes.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms of it appear in different ways. it can be mild, with small areas of rash. When it is moderate or severe, the skin gets inflamed with raised red areas topped with loose, silvery, scaling skin. If it is severe, the skin becomes itchy and tender. And sometimes large patches form and may be uncomfortable. The patches can join together and cover large areas of skin, such as the entire back.
it can also affect the fingernails and toenails, causing the nails to pit, change color, and separate from the nail bed.
In some people, it causes joints to become swollen, tender, and painful. This is called Psoriatic arthritis.
Symptoms often disappear (go into remission), even without treatment, and then return (flare up).
(also called vulgaris)
Plaque often causes thick patches of skin that are covered with silvery-white scale.
Raised, reddish patches on the skin called plaque (plak).
- Patches may be covered with a silvery-white coating, which dermatologists call scale.
- Patches can appear anywhere on the skin.
- Most patches appear on the knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp.
- Patches can itch.
- Scratching the itchy patches often causes the patches to thicken.
- Patches vary in size and can appear as separate patches or join together to cover a large area.
- Nail problems — pits in the nails, crumbling nail, nail falls off.
This type of it causes small spots that can show up all over the skin.
- Small, red spots (usually on the trunk, arms, and legs but can appear on the scalp, face, and ears).
- Spots can show up all over the skin.
- Spots often appear after an illness, especially strep throat.
- Spots may clear up in a few weeks or months without treatment.
- Spots may appear where the person had plaque psoriasis.
Pustular causes pus-filled bumps that usually appear on the foot or hand.
- Bumps usually appear only on the palms and soles.
- Soreness and pain where the bumps appear.
- Pus-filled bumps will dry, and leave behind brown dots and/or scale on the skin.
If pus-filled bumps appear all over the body, get the person to a hospital right away. The person’s life may be in danger.
When pus-filled bumps cover the body, the person also may have:
- Bright-red skin.
- Been feeling sick and exhausted.
- Severe itching.
- Rapid pulse.
- Loss of appetite.
- Muscle weakness.
(also called flexural or intertriginous)
This type of it develops in areas where skin touches skin, such as the armpit.
- Smooth, red patches of skin that look raw.
- Patches only develop where skin touches skin, such as the armpits, around the groin, genitals, and buttocks. Women can develop a red, raw patch under their breasts.
- Skin feels very sore where inverse it appears.
(also called exfoliative)
Erythrodermic can cause the skin to look like it is badly burned.
- Skin looks like it is burned.
- Most (or all) of the skin on the body turns bright red.
- Body cannot maintain its normal temperature of 98.6° F. Person gets very hot or very cold.
- Heart beats too fast.
- Intense itching.
- Intense pain.
If it looks like a person has erythrodermic, get the person to a hospital right away. The person’s life may be in danger.
Who gets it?
People who get it usually have one or more person in their family who has it. Not everyone who has a family member with it will get psoriasis. But it is common. In the United States, about 7.5 million people have it. Most people, about 80%, have plaque psoriasis.
It can begin at any age. Whites get it more often than other races.
Infants and young children are more likely to get inverse psoriasis and guttate psoriasis.
Having this can be embarrassing, and many people, especially teens, avoid swimming and other situations where patches can show. But there are many types of treatment that can help keep it under control.
It may look contagious, but it’s absolutely not. You cannot get it from touching someone who has it. You cannot get it from swimming in the same pool or having sex. Experts believe that psoriasis occurs when the immune system overreacts, causing inflammation and flaking of skin. In some cases, psoriasis runs in families.
To get it , a person must inherit the genes that cause it. Scientists have learned that a person’s immune system and genes play important roles. It seems that many genes must interact to cause it. Scientists also know that not everyone who inherits the genes for if will get psoriasis. It seems that a person must inherit the “right” mix of genes. Then the person must be exposed to a trigger.
Many people say that their psoriasis began after they experienced one of these common psoriasis triggers:
- A stressful event.
- Strep throat.
- Taking certain medicines, such as lithium, or medicine to prevent malaria.
- Cold, dry weather.
- A cut, scratch, or bad sunburn.
People with it often notice times when their skin gets worse. Things that can cause these flare-ups include a cold and dry climate, infections, stress, dry skin, and taking certain medicines.
How does a dermatologist diagnose psoriasis?
To diagnose this, a dermatologist:
- Examines a patient’s skin, nails, and scalp for signs of it.
- Asks whether family members have it.
- Learns about what has been happening in the patient’s life. A dermatologist may want to know whether a patient has been under a lot of stress, had a recent illness, or just started taking a medicine.
Sometimes a dermatologist also removes a bit of skin. A dermatologist may call this confirming the diagnosis. By looking at the removed skin under a microscope, one can confirm whether a person has it.
Most cases of it are mild, and treatment begins with skin care. This includes keeping your skin moist with creams and lotions. These are often used with other treatments including shampoos, ultraviolet light, and medicines your doctor prescribes.
In some cases, it can be hard to treat. You may need to try different combinations of treatments to find what works for you. Treatment for psoriasis may continue for a lifetime.
Skin care at home can help control it . Follow these tips to care for it:
- Use creams or lotions, baths, or soaks to keep your skin moist.
- Try short exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet (UV) light.
- Follow instructions for skin products and prescribed medicines. It may take a period of trial and error until you know which skin products or methods work best for you. For mild symptoms of it, some over-the-counter medicines, such as aloe vera, may be soothing.
Things to avoid
It’s also important to avoid those things that can cause psoriasis symptoms to flare up or make the condition worse. Things to avoid include:
- Skin injury. An injury to the skin can cause its patches to form anywhere on the body, including the site of the injury. This includes injuries to your nails or nearby skin while trimming your nails.
- Stress and anxiety. Stress can cause it to appear suddenly (flare) or can make symptoms worse.
- Infection. Infections such as strep throat can cause it to appear suddenly, especially in children.
- Certain medicines. Some medicines, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), beta-blockers, and lithium, have been found to make it symptoms worse. Talk to your doctor. You may be able to take a different medicine.
- Overexposure to sunlight. Short periods of sun exposure reduce it in most people, but too much sun can damage the skin and cause skin cancer. And sunburns can trigger flares of it.
- Alcohol. Alcohol use can cause symptoms to flare up.
- Smoking . Smoking can make it worse. If you smoke, try to quit.
Studies have not found that specific diets can cure or improve the condition, even though some advertisements claim to. For some people, not eating certain foods helps their psoriasis. Most doctors recommend that you eat a balanced diet to be healthy and stay at a healthy weight.
How do dermatologists treat psoriasis?
Treating psoriasis has benefits. Treatment can reduce signs and symptoms of psoriasis, which usually makes a person feel better. With treatment, some people see their skin completely clear. Treatment can even improve a person’s quality of life.
What things you can do that will help to control psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a long-lasting disease. Here are some things you can do that will help you take control.
- Learn about psoriasis. Knowledge really is power. Learning about psoriasis will help you manage the disease, make informed decisions about how you treat psoriasis, and avoid things that can make psoriasis worse. It will also help you talk about psoriasis with others.
- Take good care of yourself. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, not smoking, and drinking very little alcohol will help. Smoking, drinking, and being overweight make psoriasis worse. These also can make treatment less effective. People who have psoriasis also have an increased risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases, so taking good care of yourself is essential.
- Be aware of your joints. If your joints feel stiff and sore, especially when you wake up, see a dermatologist. Stiff or sore joints can be the first sign of psoriatic arthritis. About 10% – 30% of people who have psoriasis get this type of arthritis.Treatment is essential. This type of arthritis can eat away the joints. Treatment can prevent deformed joints and disability.
- Notice your nails. If your nails begin to pull away from the nail bed or develop pitting, ridges, or a yellowish-orange color, see a dermatologist. These are signs of psoriatic arthritis.
- Pay attention to your mood. If you feel depressed, you may want to join a psoriasis support group or see a mental health professional. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal behavior are more common in people who have psoriasis. Getting help is not a sign of weakness.
- Learn about treatment for psoriasis. Some people choose not to treat psoriasis, but it is important to know your options. This will help you make an informed decision and feel in control.
- Talk with your dermatologist before you stop taking medicine for psoriasis. Immediately stopping a medicine for psoriasis can have serious consequences. It can cause one type of psoriasis to turn into another, more serious type of psoriasis. Let’s say a person who has plaque psoriasis takes a medicine called methotrexate. If the person just stops taking methotrexate, this can cause the plaque psoriasis to turn into guttate psoriasis or erythrodermic psoriasis. This can be very serious
Why choose Cosmetique Clinic
- Expertise and experience. Cosmetique Dermatology Clinic doctors have extensive experience treating children and adults who have psoriasis.
- Specialized treatment. Cosmetique offers all treatments for this disease, including one for moderate to severe psoriasis that’s not available at many places. The Goeckerman treatment, which involves daily ultraviolet light exposure and application of coal tar over the whole body.
- The right diagnosis. Each form of psoriasis has unique characteristics, and their effects on people range from mild to almost totally disabling. Your doctor will work with you to determine the correct diagnosis, which is essential for effective treatment.