Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin condition caused by an abnormality in the immune system which causes the increased production of new skin cells. Unable to shed the old skin cells quickly enough, the patient’s skin accumulates these dead cells on the skin’s surface.
Psoriasis has no cure and its cause has not been scientifically determined. The types of psoriasis include:
Plaque psoriasis – The most common form of the disease. Presents itself as small, red bumps.
Guttate psoriasis – This is the most common type of psoriasis diagnosed in children. Also has small, red bumps.
Pustular psoriasis – These are blistered, pus-filled lesions surrounded by reddened skin.
Inverse psoriasis – Occurs in the areas of the body where the skin folds, such as the armpits and groin. Appears as smooth, inflamed lesions.
Erythrodermic psoriasis – can lead to severe illness or death through the development of a weakened immune system.
Psoriatic arthritis – Characterized by joint discomfort that includes pain, swelling, stiffness and/or throbbing.
What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms of psoriasis include:
- Red, inflamed patches of skin
- Silvery scales
- Dry, cracked skin
- Itching, burning or soreness of the skin
- Swollen and stiff joints (psoriatic arthritis)
Who gets it?
- 4.5 million Americans annually
- Slightly more common in women
- One-third of all children
- Fair-skinned people report slightly more cases
For adults with mild psoriasis, topical steroids are often prescribed. Other treatments include:
- Carefully measured, daily exposure to natural sunlight
- Oatmeal baths to relieve itching
- UVB therapy (moderate cases)
- Immune system suppressants (severe cases)