Psoriasis is a condition that causes the body to produce new skin cells faster than usual. This causes thickening, scaling, and redness of the skin, along with severe itching. Psoriasis affects around 2% of the total population in the United States and can occur at any age and any skin type.
Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body and in the majority of cases appears as thick, scaly patches called plaques. Most often they are found on the scalp, back, knees and elbows. There are different types of psoriasis and symptoms may differ based on which specific type a patient has. For instance, someone with guttate psoriasis may see numerous small, circular, thin red plaques all over their body, while someone with inverse psoriasis may experience areas of smooth, red, raw-looking patches of skin that can be sore or painful. There are two very serious, but rare forms of psoriasis – pustular and erythrodermic. These types of psoriasis can affect the entire body and sometimes even be life-threatening.
Typically 80-90% of patients who suffer from psoriasis experience the non-life threatening plaque type of psoriasis, which is characterized by those thick, red, scaly plaques on the surface of the skin.
Psoriasis is not contagious and you cannot ‘catch’ it from someone who has it. Even though we know this skin condition does not spread from person to person, researchers are still looking for the direct cause of why and how psoriasis develops. We do know that psoriasis tends to run in families and shows a genetic link, and there is also a proven immune link to psoriasis.
There are many triggers for psoriasis flares including viral illness or infections, weather changes, stress or injury. An important part of treating and controlling psoriasis is helping the patient to understand and recognize what triggers their psoriasis.
The most common symptoms of psoriasis are seen on the skin as plaques and rashes; however, nail changes and joint swelling or pain can also indicate psoriasis. Once diagnosed, psoriasis can many times be treated and controlled with topical creams. The treatments will always vary on the type, location, and severity of the disease. Light therapy can be used for many patients, and in some cases, medicines which are taken by mouth or injected will be used to control the condition.
While psoriasis is not curable, it is treatable and there are many options available. Patients with psoriasis are largely able to control their symptoms and go on to have healthy, comfortable, and clear looking skin.
Don’t struggle with untreated psoriasis, contact us to schedule your psoriasis treatment appointment today.
Brooke Moss, PA-C, MPH is a board-certified dermatology Physician Assistant. She is accepting new patients in our Edina and Downtown Minneapolis locations.