What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an immune-mediated condition characterized by chronic inflammation that impacts the skin. It’s a widespread condition where skin cells proliferate faster than usual, leading to the accumulation of dry, scaly, and itchy patches on the skin’s surface. Psoriasis comes in various forms, with plaque psoriasis being the most prevalent type.

What Are The Causes of Psoriasis?

The exact causes of psoriasis are not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a complex interaction between genetic, immune system, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

What Are the Different Types of Eczema?

Plaque psoriasis often presents with raised patches of dry, red skin, adorned with scaly, silvery plaques. It may lead to itching, burning sensations, and sometimes cracking and bleeding from dry skin. Less common types of psoriasis include:

  • Guttate psoriasis: Primarily seen in children,or after an infection, this type manifests as small pink spots on the skin without the thickened skin seen in plaque psoriasis.
  • Inverse psoriasis: Characterized by shiny, bright red patches of skin, usually appearing in skin folds such as the groin, breasts, and armpits.
  • Pustular psoriasis: Identified by pus-filled blisters surrounded by inflamed, red skin, typically affecting the hands and feet and often appearing in adulthood.
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis: A rare and severe form covering large parts of the body with red scales that may shed in large sheets, requiring immediate medical attention due to its potential life-threatening complications.

Other issues associated with psoriasis include nail psoriasis, affecting fingernails or toenails, and psoriatic arthritis, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms of Psoriasis?

Psoriasis typically presents as red, raised patches of skin covered with silvery scales, known as plaques. These plaques often appear on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back, but can occur anywhere on the body. Other signs and symptoms may include itching, burning, or soreness in the affected areas, thickened or pitted nails, and joints that are swollen or stiff, particularly in cases of psoriatic arthritis. The severity of symptoms can vary widely between individuals and may fluctuate over time.

What Are The Risk Factors of Psoriasis?

If someone in your family has had psoriasis, you’re more likely to get it too because of genetics. It often shows up in adults between 30 and 50 years old. Other things like stress, skin injuries or infections, strep throat, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and certain medications can also affect how bad it gets.

How is Psoriasis Diagnosed?

Psoriasis is typically diagnosed through a simple physical examination of the skin. Make sure to inform your doctor about any skin changes or symptoms you’ve noticed. Sometimes, if the physical signs aren’t clear or your doctor needs to confirm the diagnosis, they may perform a biopsy.

What Are Possible Treatments For Psoriasis?

Typically,Dr. Donnelley will prescribe creams or ointments such as topical corticosteroids or immuno-modulators to apply to the affected areas for symptom relief. For moderate to severe psoriasis, systemic medications like immuno-modulators or biologics (injections or pills) may be recommended. Phototherapy, which uses ultraviolet light, could also be beneficial in reducing cell growth and easing symptoms. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption can also help.

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Are There Preventative Steps or Measures To Avoid Psoriasis?

You can lower your chances of developing psoriasis by taking several measures. These include quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol, managing stress, avoiding tattoos (as they can injure the skin), moisturizing, steering clear of dry, cold climates, and maintaining a healthy diet that’s anti-inflammatory.

What Are The Risks If Psoriasis Is Left Untreated?

Some patients with psoriasis (especially those with nail changes) will develop psoriatic arthritis, resulting in joint pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. It is a destructive process which requires early and aggressive therapy. If Dr. Donnelley suspects you might have psoriatic arthritis, she will refer you to a rheumatologist for further work-up. Additionally, psoriasis has been associated with certain cancers. Skin that cracks or sheds in large patches also raises the risk of infection and other complications.

Are There Other Related Conditions To Psoriasis?

Psoriasis commonly coexists with conditions such as psoriatic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and metabolic syndrome (diabetes, hypertension, etc).

Meet Donnelley Dermatology

Dr. Naomi S. Donnelley, M.D., FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist with over 20 years of post-residency experience. She specializes in general medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology, and sees both pediatric and adult patients. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology, a member... Learn More »

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