May 05, 2020
Psoriasis is a common skin condition known for causing painful red, scaly patches of skin, but it affects much more than the appearance of your skin. Psoriasis is a systemic disease that can affect your whole body when inflammation spirals out of control.
The exact causes of it aren’t completely understood, but some possible triggers include injuries, infection, stress, smoking, heavy alcohol use, and certain blood pressure medicine. Genetics can also play a role.
The basic mechanics of psoriasis cause your skin cells to multiply at a faster rate, leading to lesions on the skin. Some forms of psoriasis simply affect certain areas of the body while others are more widespread. The disease can be mild or very severe which is why prompt treatment is so important.
The most commonly recognized form is plaque psoriasis, which typically manifests as thick silvery scales on your elbows, knees, or scalp. Symptoms tend to be more intense during flare-ups, causing some people to develop lesions all over their body.
Other types of psoriasis include nail psoriasis, which causes pitting in the nails or abnormal nail discoloration, and inverse psoriasis, which affects the groin area and underneath the breasts and armpits.
Guttate psoriasis is a more coin-shaped version of plaque psoriasis. It can be triggered by strep throat or another bacterial infection. Usually it appears on the trunk of your body.
People with pustular psoriasis symptoms experience fever and chills and develop white pustules of pus surrounded by red skin. Depending on which type of pustular psoriasis you have, these pustules can appear in localized areas (like your hands or feet) or cover most of your body.
Erythrodermic psoriasis causes most of your skin to turn bright red. You will also experience severe itching, pain, and shedding of skin. People most at risk for this type are those with uncontrolled plaque psoriasis. It can be a medical emergency, especially for people living with cardiac disease.
Dermatology experts say that some psoriasis patients will also experience the Koebner phenomenon in which injured skin causes psoriatic lesions to pop up on areas of the body normally not affected by the disease.
Psoriasis can increase your risk for other health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. About 30 percent of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis, a form of arthritis that causes inflammation in the joints and tendons.
Early treatment can make a significant difference in the severity of your psoriasis. Talk to your doctor about what treatment options are best for you. The first line of defense is usually topical medications like corticosteroids, retinoids, and Vitamin D analogues. Oral and injectable medications are also available.
Narrow ultraviolet B (UVB) phototherapy and photochemotherapy are used for more severe cases. Biologic drugs that alter the immune system are another treatment option.
If you think you have psoriasis, talk to your doctor about getting evaluated. Left untreated, it can make daily life uncomfortable and lead to complications.
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. If you have, or suspect that you have, a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.