10/25/2016 08:24:00 pm
a skin condition that causes skin redness and irritation. Most people with
psoriasis have thick, red skin with flaky, silver-white patches called scales.
Causes Psoriasis is very common. Anyone can
develop it, but it most often begins between ages 15 to 35.
Psoriasis isn't contagious. This means
it doesn't spread to other people.
Psoriasis seems to be passed down
through families. Health care providers think it may be an autoimmune condition. This occurs when the immune system
mistakenly attacks and inflames or destroys healthy body tissue.
Normal skin cells grow deep in the
skin and rise to the surface about once a month. When you have psoriasis, this
process takes place in 2 weeks rather than in 3 to 4 weeks. This results in
dead skin cells building up on the skin's surface, forming the patches of
The following may trigger an attack of
psoriasis or make it harder to treat:
Infections from bacteria or viruses,
including strep throat and upper respiratory infections
Dry air or dry skin
Injury to the skin, including cuts,
burns, and insect bites
Some medicines, including antimalaria
drugs, beta-blockers, and lithium
Too little sunlight
Too much sunlight (sunburn)
Drinking too much alcohol
Psoriasis may be worse in people who
have a weak immune system. This may be due to:
Autoimmune disorders (such as rheumatoid arthritis)
Some people with psoriasis also have
arthritis (psoriatic arthritis).
Psoriasis can appear suddenly or
slowly. Many times, it goes away and then comes back.
The main symptom of the condition is
irritated, red, flaky patches of skin. The medical term for the patches is
plaques. Plaques are most often seen on the elbows, knees, and middle of the
body. But they can appear anywhere, including on the scalp, palms, and soles of
The skin may be:
Dry and covered with silver, flaky
Pink-red in color (like the color of
Raised and thick
Other symptoms may include:
Genital sores in males
Joint pain or aching
Nail changes, including thick nails, yellow-brown
nails, dents in the nail, and a lifting of the nail from the skin underneath
Severe dandruff on the scalp
There are 5 main types of psoriasis:
Erythrodermic: The skin redness is
very intense and covers a large area.
Guttate: Small, pink-red spots appear on the
skin. This form seems to be linked to strep infections.
Inverse: Skin redness and irritation
occur in the armpits, groin, and in between overlapping skin.
Plaque: Thick, red patches of skin are
covered by flaky, silver-white scales. This is the most common type of
Pustular: White pus-filled blisters
(pustules) are surrounded by red, irritated skin.
Exams and Tests
Your provider can usually diagnose
this condition by looking at your skin.
Sometimes, a skin biopsy is done to rule out other possible
conditions. If you have joint pain, your provider may order x-rays.
The goal of treatment is to control
your symptoms and prevent infection.
Three treatment options are available:
Skin lotions, ointments, creams, and
shampoos. These are called topical treatments.
Pills or injections that affect the
body's immune response, not just the skin. These are called systemic, or
Phototherapy, which uses ultraviolet
light to treat psoriasis.
TREATMENTS USED ON THE SKIN (TOPICAL)
Most of the time, psoriasis is treated
with medicines that are placed directly on the skin or scalp. These may include:
Cortisone creams and ointments
Creams or ointments that contain coal
tar or anthralin
Creams to remove the scaling (usually
salicylic acid or lactic acid)
Dandruff shampoos (over-the-counter or
Prescription medicines containing
vitamin D or vitamin A (retinoids)
SYSTEMIC (BODY-WIDE) TREATMENTS
If you have very severe psoriasis,
your provider will likely recommend medicines that suppress the immune system's
faulty response. These medicines include methotrexate or cyclosporine.
Retinoids can also be used.
Newer drugs called biologics are used
when other treatments do not work. Biologics approved for the treatment of
Some people may choose to have
This is treatment in which your skin
is carefully exposed to ultraviolet light.
It may be given alone or after you
take a drug that makes the skin sensitive to light.
Phototherapy for psoriasis can be
given as ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB) light.
If you have an infection, your
provider will prescribe antibiotics.
Following these tips at home may help:
Taking a daily bath or shower. Try not
to scrub too hard because this can irritate the skin and trigger an attack.
Oatmeal baths may be soothing and may
help to loosen scales. You can use over-the-counter oatmeal bath products. Or,
you can mix 1 cup of oatmeal into a tub of warm water.
Keeping your skin clean and moist, and
avoiding your specific psoriasis triggers may help reduce the number of
Sunlight may help your symptoms go
away. Be careful not to get sunburned.
Relaxation and anti-stress techniques.
The link between stress and flares of psoriasis is not well understood.
Limiting the alcoholic beverages you
drink may help keep psoriasis from getting worse.
Psoriasis can be a life-long condition
that can be controlled with treatment. It may go away for a long time and then
return. With proper treatment, it will not affect your overall health. But
be aware that there is a strong link between psoriasis and other health
problems, such as heart disease.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if you have
symptoms of psoriasis or if your skin irritation continues despite treatment.
Tell your provider if you have joint
pain or fever with your psoriasis attacks.
If you have symptoms of arthritis,
talk to your dermatologist or rheumatologist.
Go to the emergency room or call the
local emergency number (such as 911) if you have a severe outbreak that covers
all or most of your body.
There is no known way to prevent
psoriasis. Keeping the skin clean and moist and avoiding your psoriasis
triggers may help reduce the number of flare-ups.
Providers recommend daily baths or
showers for people with psoriasis. Avoid scrubbing too hard, because this can
irritate the skin and trigger an attack.