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Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory condition that causes patches of skin to become red, inflamed, and bumpy. This disease affects more than 8 million people in the U.S.
Psoriasis occurs when the immune system mistakes skin cells for a virus or other infection and responds by producing more skin cell growth. This can be triggered by stress, anxiety, injuries to the skin, infections and hormonal changes.
In almost all cases, psoriasis is inherited. You should take the time to explore your family’s history with the condition before visiting a dermatologist.
Psoriasis is a genetic disease in which the immune system becomes hyperactive in a very specific way. Usually, our immune systems are meant to fight infections by recognizing cells and chemicals that are foreign to our bodies. Once our immune systems recognize these foreign invaders, they work to destroy or remove them from our bodies.
In psoriasis, our body’s immune response becomes too active and is not directed at a specific invader. As a result, our bodies have more inflammation than we should. This inflammation affects all of our organ systems, the largest of which is the skin. In many ways, the rash in psoriasis is a window into the body for patients to see how much-uncontrolled inflammation they have.
Psoriasis affects both men and women equally. Though it is most common in people between the ages of 15 and 30, and again between the ages of 50 and 60, psoriasis can begin at any time.
People with cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome are more likely to develop psoriasis, and it is also believed to be genetic, as individuals who have a parent with psoriasis are 15 percent more likely to develop it.
Psoriasis goes through cycles of improving and worsening, which is called a “flare.”
Some common triggers of outbreaks of psoriasis may include:
Psoriasis is characterized by dry, scaly flakes on the skin. The skin cells shed and collect on the skin’s surface, causing red, flaky, crusty patches covered in silvery scales. These scales shed easily, and you may also experience intense itching and burning.
Psoriasis mostly occurs on the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp, though patches can appear anywhere.
There are five common forms of psoriasis:
There are several ways to treat psoriasis depending on the severity of your condition.
Systemic therapies include using medications taken either by mouth or injection, while topical treatments are applied directly to the skin and aim to sooth inflammation and slow down the growth of skin cells. Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, uses ultraviolet light to penetrate the skin and slow the growth of cells.
Treatment is generally started with a mild topical cream and progresses to more powerful treatments if necessary.
Every patient will receive a personalized psoriasis treatment plan. We recommend:
Related: Biologics for Psoriasis
Psoriasis symptoms may come and go over time. Since there is no known cure, the following steps are recommended to prevent flare-ups:
You may also want to talk to a nutritionist and consider taking supplements to boost your overall immune function.
If you suffer from psoriasis, U.S. Dermatology Partners would love to work with you to create a plan to prevent flareups and maintain healthy, beautiful skin. There are U.S. Dermatology Partners locations across Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. Just take a few minutes to fill out our appointment request form. One of our team members will be in touch soon to schedule your visit and answer any questions you have.
*Results may vary by individual