Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Psoriasis can be initiated by certain environmental triggers.
A predisposition for psoriasis is inherited in genes.
Though psoriasis symptoms and signs vary depending on the type of psoriasis, they typically include
red or pink thickened skin,
raised patches of skin.
Psoriasis is not contagious.
Psoriasis gets better and worse spontaneously and can have periodic remissions (clear skin).
Psoriasis is controllable with medication.
Psoriasis is currently not curable.
There are many promising new therapies, including newer biologic drugs.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a noncontagious skin condition that produces plaques of thickened, scaling skin. The dry flakes of skin scales are thought to result from the excessively rapid proliferation of skin cells that is triggered by inflammatory chemicals produced by specialized white blood cells called lymphocytes. Psoriasis commonly affects the skin of the elbows, knees, and scalp.
Some people have such mild psoriasis (small, faint dry skin patches) that they may not even suspect that they have a medical skin condition. Others have very severe psoriasis where virtually their entire body is fully covered with red, scaly skin.
Psoriasis is considered an incurable, long-term (chronic) skin condition. It has a variable course, periodically improving and worsening. It is not unusual for psoriasis to spontaneously clear for years and stay in remission. Many people note a worsening of their symptoms in the colder winter months.
Psoriasis affects all races and both sexes. Although psoriasis can be seen in people of any age, from babies to seniors, most commonly patients are first diagnosed in their early adult years. The quality of life of patients with psoriasis is often diminished because of the appearance of their skin. Recently, it has become clear that people with psoriasis are more likely to have diabetes, high blood lipids, and heart disease. There are hypotheses as to how this might related to their overall ability to control inflammation. Caring for psoriasis takes medical teamwork.
Picture of psoriasis on the legs. Source: iStock.com.
As mentioned above, psoriasis appears as a small bump, a papule, surmounted by scale. When these papules combine, a plaque is formed that is covered by excessive layers of horny skin that is perceived as a silvery scale. This scale is shed and appears as dandruff.