Psoriasis

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    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.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    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.

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Quick GuidePsoriasis Rashes, Symptoms, Treatments

Psoriasis Rashes, Symptoms, Treatments

What are psoriasis causes and risk factors?

The exact cause remains unknown. A combination of elements, including genetic predisposition and environmental factors are involved. It is common for psoriasis to be found in members of the same family. Defects in immune regulation are thought to play a major role. Despite research over the past 30 years, the "master switch" that turns on psoriasis is still a mystery.

What are the different types of psoriasis?

There are several different forms of psoriasis, including psoriasis vulgaris (common plaque type), guttate psoriasis (small, drop-like spots), inverse psoriasis (in the folds like of the underarms, navel, groin, and buttocks), and pustular psoriasis (small pus-filled yellowish blisters). When the palms and the soles are involved, this is known as palmoplantar psoriasis. In erythrodermic psoriasis, the entire skin surface is involved with the disease. Patients with this form of psoriasis often feel cold and may develop congestive heart failure if they have a preexisting heart problem. Nail psoriasis produces yellow pitted nails that can be confused with nail fungus. Scalp psoriasis can be severe enough to produce localized hair loss, plenty of dandruff, and severe itching.

Can psoriasis affect my joints?

Yes, psoriasis is associated with inflamed joints in about one-third of those affected. In fact, sometimes joint pains may be the only sign of the disorder, with completely clear skin. The joint disease associated with psoriasis is referred to as psoriatic arthritis. Patients may have inflammation of any joints (arthritis), although the joints of the hands, knees, and ankles tend to be most commonly affected. Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory, destructive form of arthritis and is treated with medications to stop the disease progression.

The average age for onset of psoriatic arthritis is 30-40 years of age. Usually, the skin symptoms and signs precede the onset of the arthritis.

Can psoriasis affect only my nails?

Yes, psoriasis may involve solely the nails in a limited number of patients. Usually, the nail signs accompany the skin and arthritis symptoms and signs. Nail psoriasis is typically very difficult to treat. Treatment options are somewhat limited and include potent topical steroids applied at the nail-base cuticle, injection of steroids at the nail-base cuticle, and oral or systemic medications as described below for the treatment of psoriasis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/14/2016

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