According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory, immune-mediated disease most commonly characterized by thickened plaques and scale on your skin. It affects about 3% of the US population or about 7.5 million people. Psoriasis can go through cycles of flaring plaques to clear skin that last for several weeks or months. There is no cure for psoriasis but many treatments are available to keep the disease under control. Read further to find out more about psoriasis and the treatments available.
Psoriasis can be mild, affecting only a few small patches of skin, to severe, covering large portions or your body. Any area on your body can be affected by psoriasis but the most common areas include:
During a normal growth cycle your skin cells to grow, die, and shed from your skin over the course of a month. When someone has psoriasis this process happens in about 3-4 days. As a result, the dead skin cells build up into plaques and scale on your skin.
What causes someone to have psoriasis isn’t exactly known, but we do know that stress, genetics and your immune system play a role in a person’s tendency to develop psoriasis. There are several known common triggers that can set off psoriasis including:
If you have psoriasis, limiting your exposure to these triggers through lifestyle changes can help reduce the severity of your psoriasis flares.
Joint pain exists in about one third of psoriasis patients. This may be a sign of psoriatic arthritis, a type of arthritis that affects psoriasis patients. Psoriatic arthritis is similar to rheumatoid arthritis, causing warm, swollen, painful joints. If left untreated, psoriatic arthritis can cause severe damage to your joints. It is important to tell your dermatologist about your painful joints at your psoriasis treatment appointments.
While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are many treatment options available including:
We do know that psoriasis is not contagious, but that doesn’t always help someone’s self-esteem. The plaques associated with psoriasis can take a toll on one’s physical as well as emotional well-being. Learn as much as you can about psoriasis so you can be better prepared to answer other people’s questions about the disease. If you feel comfortable about discussing your psoriasis, others will likely feel at ease about your disease too.