Psoriasis

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Psoriasis facts

  • Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease.
  • Patients with psoriasis are predisposed to diabetes and heart disease.
  • Psoriasis can be initiated by certain environmental triggers.
  • A predisposition for psoriasis is inherited in genes.
  • 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 therapies, including newer biologic drugs.
  • Future research for psoriasis is promising.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a noncontagious skin condition that produces plaques of thickened, scaling skin. The dry scales are thought to result from the rapid proliferation of skin cells triggered by the release of inflammatory chemicals from abnormal blood lymphocytes. Psoriasis commonly affects the skin of the elbows, knees, and scalp. Some people have such mild psoriasis that they may not even suspect that they have a medical skin condition. Others have very severe psoriasis involving their entire body. Psoriasis is 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: iStock.com.

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, heart disease and arthritis. Caring for psoriasis takes medical teamwork.

Picture of psoriasis on the legs
Picture of psoriasis on the legs. Source: iStock.com.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/28/2015

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Psoriasis symptoms and signs

Psoriasis Symptoms and Signs

The hallmark symptoms of psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory skin disease, are plaques composed of thick, scaly skin. These are typically reddened in appearance with silvery scales. The elbows, knees, and scalp are common sites of involvement, although other areas of skin can be affected as well.