Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease. Knees, elbows, scalp, trunk, and nails are the most commonly affected areas. There are several types of psoriasis:

  • Causes

    The cause of psoriasis is unclear. Signals from a defect in the immune system may result in an overgrowth of skin cells. Because the cells grow faster than they can be shed, they pile up on the skin's surface. The excess skin cells are thought to cause the silvery white scales that are characteristic of plaque-type psoriasis.

  • Definition

    Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease. Knees, elbows, scalp, trunk, and nails are the most commonly affected areas. There are several types of psoriasis:

    • Plaque—inflamed patches of skin topped with silvery, white scales (most common type)
    • Guttate—small dot-like lesions
    • Pustular—weeping lesions and intense scaling
    • Inverse (intertriginous)—inflamed patches of skin in body folds (armpits, groin, under breasts)
    • Erythrodermic—intense sloughing and inflammation of nearly the entire skin
    Psoriasis
    Psoriasis
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  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done including an examination of your skin and nails will be examined. There are no specific blood tests or diagnostic procedures for psoriasis. Sometimes a skin biopsy will be done to confirm the diagnosis.

  • Prevention

    Avoiding physical trauma to the skin, infections, and cold, dry temperatures may help reduce flare-ups in people with the condition. Your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods if they appear to make your psoriasis worse.

  • Risk Factors

    A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
    Risk factors for this condition include:

    • Family history of psoriasis
    • Cold climates

    • Suppression of the immune system, including
      AIDS
    • Certain bacterial infections
    • Certain medications, such as beta blockers, tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors, and lithium
    • Smoking

  • Symptoms

    The red, thickened, and rough patches of psoriasis may occur anywhere, but are commonly found on the scalp, elbows, knees, palms, and soles. Other symptoms include:

    • Silvery white scales
    • Pitted or dented fingernails and/or toenails
    • Red lesion in folds of skin

    • Joint pain suggesting
      arthritis

    The skin may also be sore, burning, or itchy depending on the type of psoriasis.

    The rashes may come and go.

  • Treatment

    Treatment is based on:

    • The severity of the disease
    • The extent and location of the areas involved
    • Responsiveness to the treatment