Psoriasis

PsoriasisPsoriasis is a chronic disease caused by an overgrowth of skin cells. Instead of naturally exfoliating and regenerating every few weeks, the skin rapidly grows, piling up on the skin surface. The condition is often, though not always, hereditary. It affects people of all ages, from infants and children to the elderly. Average age of onset is between 15 and 30, though many people also develop the disease between age 50 and 60. Fortunately, the condition is not contagious.

Approximately 7.5 million people live with psoriasis in the U.S. Of those, 4 out of 5 have plaque psoriasis, which causes raised red or silver patches on the skin. The remaining 20 percent have 1 of 4 other types of psoriasis – guttate, inverse, pustular, or erythorodermic. Symptoms vary among each; and some people develop more than one type of psoriasis. The symptoms of psoriasis vary depending on the type of psoriasis a person has.

If you have any of the symptoms listed below, see DermPartners for an evaluation:

  • Raised skin plaques, possibly scaly
  • Skin patches that are concentrated on the knees, elbows, lower back, or scalp
  • Skin patches that itch and thicken when scratched
  • Nails that crumble or fall off
  • Small red spots that cover the body, specifically on the trunk, arms or legs
  • Red, swollen, and painful palms and soles covered in pus-filled bumps
  • Smooth red patches of skin, primarily wear skin contacts other skin (groin, armpits, etc.)

*Note that if the skin turns bright red with the appearance of a bad burn, this could be a sign of erythrodermic psoriasis and requires emergency medical attention. Erythrodermic psoriasis can cause rapid heart rate, pain, and severe changes to body temperature.

If you suspect that you could have psoriasis, schedule an appointment with DermPartners for an evaluation. We will review your family history and examine your skin and nails for symptoms to determine if you have the disease. Your dermatologist may also ask about recent events, such as periods of long stress or an illness that may have triggered the onset of psoriasis. Finally, a skin biopsy may be taken to confirm the diagnosis.

Though there is no cure for psoriasis, there are several treatments that reduce skin plaques or even clear them completely. Treatments vary according to the severity of the disease and range from topical solutions and ultraviolet therapy to systemic therapies administered via injection or infusion. Generally, topical solutions and phototherapy, such as Xtrac laser therapy are the first line of defense for mild to moderate cases of psoriasis. Systemic solutions are reserved for severe and debilitating cases.

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