What is Psoriasis?

Posted Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Did You Know? Psoriasis often appears between the ages of 15 and 25

Psoriasis is the most prevalent autoimmune disease in the U.S. According to recent studies approximately 7.5 million Americans and as many 125 million people worldwide have psoriasis.  This resource is intended to help you educate your patients on what psoriasis is, common types and treatment options.      

01 | What is Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a non-contagious autoimmune disease that mainly affects the skin. Psoriasis appears as a reddish, scaly rash which is commonly found over the surfaces of the scalp, around or in the ears, the elbows, knees, navel, genitals and buttocks.

Psoriasis causes the skin to quickly build up in the affected area, due to skin production being faster than the body’s ability to shed it.  This results in scaly patches, also known as psoriatic plaques, in the areas of inflammation and excessive skin production.

02 | Types of Psoriasis  

There are several types of psoriasis, the following is a list of the most common types of psoriasis:

  • Plaque - the most common form of the disease and appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells. These patches or plaques are often itchy and painful, and they can crack and bleed.
  • Guttate – appear as small, dot-like lesions which often start in childhood or young adulthood and can be triggered by a strep infection.
  • Inverse - shows up as smooth and shiny red lesions in body folds, such as behind the knee, under the arm or in the groin.
  • Pustular - characterized by white pustules (blisters of noninfectious pus) surrounded by red skin which are most commonly found on hands and feet. The pus consists of white blood cells. It is not an infection, nor is it contagious.
  • Erythrodermic - a severe form of psoriasis that leads to widespread, fiery redness over most of the body. It can cause severe itching, pain and make the skin come off in sheets. It is rare, however individuals having an erythrodermic psoriasis flare should see a doctor immediately as this form of psoriasis can be life-threatening.
  • Nail – fingernails and toenails are affected causing pitting, abnormal nail growth, discoloration and separation.  In severe cases, nails may crumble. 

03 | Treatment Options

Psoriasis treatments aim to stop the cells from growing so quickly to reduce inflammation, remove scales and smooth the skin.  Treatment options can be categorized by the following types: 

  • Topical Treatments
  • Light Therapy
  • Systemic Medications

Treatment options vary based on the type of psoriasis and severity.  Discuss your symptoms and medical history with your medical provider to establish a roadmap for care. 

For additional information and resources about psoriasis visit: www.mayoclinic.org

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