Author: Bree Maloney, Manager
August is psoriasis action month. Psoriasis affects more than 3% of the United States adult population.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin disease in which cells build up and form scales and itchy, dry patches. Normal skin cells completely grow and shed (fall off) in a month. With psoriasis, skin cells do this in only three or four days. Instead of shedding, the skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin. Some people report that psoriasis plaques itch, burn, and sting. Plaques and scales may appear on any part of the body, although they are commonly found on the elbows, knees, and scalp.
Locations & Types
There are 5 types of psoriasis:
1. Plaque Psoriasis: This is the most common type of psoriasis. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) estimates that about 80–90% of people with the condition have plaque psoriasis. It causes red, inflamed patches on light skin tones and purple or grayish color or darker brown patches on skin of color — making it harder to diagnose in people of color.
- Inverse Psoriasis: Is a severe and very rare type of psoriasis. This form often covers large sections of your body at once. The skin almost appears sunburned. Scales that develop often slough off in large sections or sheets. It’s not uncommon for you to run a fever or become very ill with this form of psoriasis.
- Inverse Psoriasis: Inverse psoriasis causes bright areas of red, shiny, inflamed skin. Patches of inverse psoriasis develop under your armpits or breasts, in your groin, or around skinfolds in your genitals.
- Pustular Psoriasis: Pustular psoriasis is more common in adults. It causes white, pus-filled blisters and broad areas of red or violet —depending on skin tone — inflamed skin. It can appear as a more intense violet color on darker skin tones. Pustular psoriasis is typically localized to smaller areas of your body, such as the hands or feet, but it can be widespread.
- Guttate Psoriasis: Guttate psoriasis commonly occurs in childhood. This type of psoriasis causes small pink or violet spots. The most common sites for guttate psoriasis include your torso, arms, and legs. These spots are rarely thick or raised like plaque psoriasis.
What are the Symptoms?
Psoriasis symptoms differ from person to person and depend on the type of psoriasis you have.
– Dry skin that may crack and bleed
– Whitish or silver patches or scales that are itchy and burn
Areas of psoriasis can be as small as a few flakes on your scalp or elbow, or cover the majority of your body. Most people with psoriasis go through “cycles” of symptoms. The condition may cause severe symptoms for a few days or weeks, and then the symptoms may clear up and be almost unnoticeable.
Causes and Treatments
Doctors are unclear as to what causes psoriasis. However, thanks to decades of research, they have a general idea of two key factors:
- A person’s immune system
Unfortunately psoriasis is incurable, though there are treatments to help with symptoms and outbreaks. Treatments typically fall into 3 categories:
- Topical: Creams and ointments can be applied directly to the skin and affected areas.
- Systemic medications: People with moderate to severe psoriasis, and those who have not responded well to other treatment types, may need to use oral or injected medications.
- Light therapy: This psoriasis treatment uses ultraviolet (UV) or natural light. Sunlight kills the overactive white blood cells that are attacking healthy skin cells and causing rapid cell growth. Both UVA and UVB light may be helpful in reducing symptoms of mild to moderate psoriasis.
If you or a loved one is or possibly suffering from psoriasis, please see a medical professional. They can biopsy or check your skin to properly diagnose.
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.