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Psoriasis facts

  • Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease.
  • Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are more common in people with psoriasis.
  • 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,
    • scaly areas,
    • 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 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, limited psoriasis that they may not even suspect that they have a medical skin condition. Others have very severe psoriasis that affects their entire body surface.

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.

Picture of scalp psoriasis
Picture of scalp psoriasis. Source:

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
Picture of psoriasis on the legs. Source:
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/6/2015

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Psoriasis - Effective Treatments Question: What kinds of treatments have been effective for your psoriasis?
Psoriasis - Symptoms Question: What symptoms and signs did you experience with psoriasis?
Scalp Psoriasis - Creams and Lotions Question: Which creams or lotions (topical medications) have helped you treat scalp psoriasis?
Psoriasis - Diet Question: Do certain foods positively or negatively impact your psoriasis?

Scalp Psoriasis Symptoms and Signs

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.