What Is Psoriasis? Here’s What to Know

Psoriasis is a common skin condition affecting over 3% of Americans (more than 5 million adults) where white or silver scaly patches, called scales, appear on the skin. 

It isn’t contagious or an allergic reaction but can come with unrelenting symptoms that affect your everyday life and well-being. Psoriasis patches can cause redness, irritation, itching, and sometimes soreness.

If you or a loved one are living with psoriasis, our experienced dermatological team is here to help. Continue reading to learn more about this common skin condition below. 

What Causes Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin condition that occurs when skin cells build up too quickly on the skin’s surface. This can happen in just a few days to a month. It’s an autoimmune disease involving T cells, the body’s defenders against diseases. T cells mistakenly become too active in psoriasis, sparking inflammation and speedy skin cell renewal.

People with psoriasis might sometimes get worse (flares) and then get better. 

Stress, infections, excessive alcohol, and weather changes that make the skin dry can trigger these flares. Some medications, such as lithium, can also make psoriasis worse or cause outbreaks.

Types of Psoriasis 

There are different types of psoriasis, including

  1. Plaque Psoriasis
    The skin cells accumulate, forming silvery-white scales.
  2. Pustular Psoriasis
    Blisters of pus that are not infectious appear on the skin. This type of psoriasis can be triggered by stress, exposure to specific chemicals, infections, or medications.
  3. Guttate Psoriasis
    Small teardrop-shaped lacerations appear on the skin. This type of psoriasis is commonly triggered by upper respiratory infections such as streptococcus.
  4. Inverse Psoriasis
    Red, smooth patches appear in the folds of skin in the genital area, under the breasts, or in the armpits. Friction and sweat may exacerbate this condition.
  5. Erythrodermic Psoriasis
    This condition involves reddening and scaling the skin throughout the body. It can be a reaction to extreme sunburn, specific medications, or an extended case of psoriasis that was inadequately cared for
  6. Sebopsoriasis
    Also known as seborrheic dermatitis, this is a skin condition causing redness, flaking, and itching, often occurring on oily skin parts like the scalp, face, and upper chest. It’s characterized by dandruff-like flakes, and in some cases, it may lead to greasy or scaly patches on the skin.
  7. Nail Psoriasis
    This type affects the nails, causing changes like pitting, discoloration, thickening, or crumbling. It can make nails look uneven, with ridges or white spots, and sometimes cause them to loosen or separate from the nail bed.
  8. Scalp Psoriasis
    This type shows up as red, scaly patches on the scalp, often causing itching or soreness. It can lead to flaking, like dandruff, and might extend beyond the hairline onto the forehead, neck, or behind the ears.

Psoriasis Symptoms

Psoriasis shows up as red, scaly patches on the skin that can be itchy, sore, or cause irritation. Sometimes, the skin might also feel thicker or have silvery-white scales.

What Parts of the Body Are Affected by Psoriasis?

People of all ages are affected by this disease. However, it primarily affects adults. Males and females are found to be equally affected by psoriasis. Researchers have found a familial genetic link to psoriasis, so there is usually a family history of this disease.

Psoriasis can be found on any part of the body, but the most common areas affected are the following

  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Lower Back
  • Face
  • Palms
  • Soles of Feet
  • Scalp

Skin around affected joints commonly cracks. Some people experience joint inflammation with the same symptoms as arthritis, also known as psoriatic arthritis. 

What Is the Best Psoriasis Treatment?

Depending on the psoriasis type, severity, size in the affected areas, and the patient’s response to initial treatment, doctors choose the appropriate treatment. 

Treatment options range from topical treatments like creams or ointments to phototherapy, oral medications, or biologics. 

There is a process also known as the “1-2-3” approach, which helps treat psoriasis. 

In step one, doctors apply a topical medication on the area. Step two involves light treatment, also called phototherapy. Step three includes oral medicines that treat the entire immune system, known as systemic therapy.

Recently, combination therapy, using lower doses of topical lights and systemic treatments, has increased effectiveness. Additionally, laser therapy, using an advanced pulse dye laser, has successfully treated various kinds of skin lesions in both adults and children. This has proven to be a highly effective form of treatment for psoriasis. Five to six monthly treatments would be necessary for its effectiveness.

For scalp psoriasis specifically, treatments may involve medicated shampoos, topical steroids, salicylic acid, or, in severe cases, oral medications or phototherapy targeted to the scalp area. 

All forms of treatment have different success rates for each patient. What works for one does not necessarily work for the other. Consulting a healthcare provider helps find each person’s most effective treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions About Psoriasis

Are you curious about psoriasis? Explore some of our most asked questions and answers below.

How Can I Prevent Psoriasis?

There’s no guaranteed method to prevent psoriasis completely. Still, you can lower your risk by sticking to your healthcare provider’s treatments, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing good skincare, and avoiding triggers that might cause symptom flare-ups.

How Is Psoriasis Diagnosed?

It can be hard to diagnose psoriasis because it is like other skin conditions. A detailed examination, sometimes with a microscope, may be necessary by a dermatologist

Is There a Cure for Psoriasis?

There’s no cure for psoriasis. It is a long-term condition where symptoms may appear and disappear over time. However, treatments are available to ease symptoms and help you look and feel better.

What Can I Do to Improve My Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a severe skin condition that needs to be treated by a trained professional. However, there are some things you can do yourself to ease the discomfort, including:

  • Keeping your skin hydrated with an ointment or cream that your dermatologist approves. 
  • Avoiding contact with water as much as possible, as water dehydrates your skin. 
  • Using mild, non-fragrant soaps.
  • Applying medicated shampoo is an effective psoriasis treatment on the scalp.
  • Wearing cotton clothes instead of synthetic clothing to avoid unnecessary sweating.
  • Avoiding scratching. 
  • Commit to your treatment even if it takes some time to see results. 
  • Sunlight and seawater benefit your skin, but it is important to prevent sunburn. 
What Are the Most Common Psoriasis Treatments?

The correct psoriasis treatment can improve your condition and make you feel much more comfortable in your skin. Treatment aims to regulate the overactive immune system, allowing the skin to heal. The most common psoriasis treatments are light therapy, laser therapy, topical treatments (like creams and oils), injections (such as biologics), and oral medication. Our expert dermatologists will define the right treatment combination for you.

How Quickly Will I Start Feeling Better After Treatment?

When psoriasis symptoms flare up, they can stick around for several weeks to a few months. Your healthcare provider might prescribe medications to help your skin heal faster. When your symptoms disappear, it’s called remission. This means your psoriasis isn’t active, but it could return later. Remission can last for a few months to a couple of years. If you avoid things that trigger your symptoms, it can help keep your psoriasis quiet for longer.

What Are the Potential Complications of Psoriasis?

Psoriasis can bring more than just itchy and scaly skin. It might cause swollen joints or arthritis. People with psoriasis might also have a higher chance of diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, strokes, and heart attacks.

When Should I See My Dermatologist for Psoriasis?

Keep an eye on your skin by doing regular self-exams. If you notice any persistent or worsening rashes, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Where Can I Get Treatment?

Our dermatologists are trained professionals with specialized knowledge about psoriasis and other skin conditions. Advanced Dermatology, PC has 40+ locations in the Northeast. Please look at our location overview to find a dermatologist near you

Effective Psoriasis Treatment Near You

Don’t let itchy, scaly, red skin affect your everyday life. Visit Advanced Dermatology, PC, for psoriasis treatment when and where you need it most.

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