Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. You usually get the patches on your elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms and feet, but they can show up on other parts of your body. Some people who have psoriasis also get a form of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis.
A problem with your immune system causes psoriasis. In a process called cell turnover, skin cells that grow deep in your skin rise to the surface. Normally, this takes a month. In psoriasis, it happens in just days because your cells rise too fast.
Psoriasis can be hard to diagnose because it can look like other skin diseases. Your doctor might need to look at a small skin sample under a microscope.
Psoriasis can last a long time, even a lifetime. Symptoms come and go. Things that make them worse include
- Dry skin
- Certain medicines
Psoriasis usually occurs in adults. It sometimes runs in families. Treatments include creams, medicines, and light therapy
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a noncontagious, chronic skin condition that produces plaques of thickened, scaling skin. The dry flakes of skin scales result from the excessively rapid proliferation of skin cells. The proliferation of skin cells is triggered by inflammatory chemicals produced by specialized white blood cells called lymphocytes. Psoriasis commonly affects the skin of the elbows, knees, and scalp.
The symptoms of psoriasis vary depending on the type you have. Some common symptoms of plaque psoriasis — the most common variety of the condition — include:
- Plaques of red skin, often covered with loose, silver-coloured scales; these lesions may be itchy and painful, and they sometimes crack and bleed. In severe cases, the plaques of irritated skin will grow and merge into one another, covering large areas.
- Disorders of the fingernails and toenails, including discolouration and pitting of the nails; the nails may also begin to crumble or detach from the nail bed.
- Plaques of scales or crust on the scalp
What Causes Psoriasis?
A variety of factors — ranging from emotional stress and trauma to streptococcal infection — can cause an episode of psoriasis. Recent research indicates that some abnormality in the immune system is the key cause of psoriasis. As many as 80% of people having flare-ups report a recent emotional trauma, such as a new job or the death of a loved one. Most doctors believe such external stressors serve as triggers for an inherited defect in immune function.