What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin disorder in which the cells of the skin multiply much faster than normal. This causes the skin to create bumpy red patches with white scales. These patches can appear anywhere but occur most frequently on the knees, elbows, lower back and scalp. It is not contagious and does not pass from person to person. Typically, psoriasis appears for the first time in early adulthood. Psoriasis is a chronic disorder and can heal and reappear throughout someone’s life.

Signs and Symptoms of Psoriasis

There are several signs of psoriasis. Symptoms to look for include:

  • Plaques of reddened skin
  • Itchiness and pain on the plaques
  • Silver-colored scales on the patches of affected skin
  • Discoloration and pitting in the nails
  • Detachment of the nail from the nailbed
  • Crusting scales on the scalp

Between 10% and 30% of patients with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis, which causes pain and swelling in the joints.

What Causes Psoriasis?

There is no known cause of psoriasis, but experts believe it may be due to a combination of immune system issues that lead to inflammation and genetic and environmental triggers. Psoriasis tends to run in families but it often skips generations. Environmental triggers that can lead to psoriasis include:

  • Cuts or scrapes
  • Surgery
  • Stress
  • Strep
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Antimalarials

Patients with a personal or family history of psoriasis should avoid triggers as much as possible.

How the Condition is Treated

There are a number of ways in which your doctor can treat psoriasis. The goal of these treatments vary. Some are designed to slow the growth of cells, while others relieve pain and itching. Treatment options for this condition include:

  • Steroid creams
  • Moisturizers
  • Coal tar
  • Prescription cream or ointment
  • Retinoid creams

In more severe cases, patients may also consider light therapy which can slow cell growth or methotrexate, a powerful drug with significant side effects that is only used in the most serious cases.

Suggested Treatment Options

All cases of psoriasis are not the same, therefore we recommend seeing a specialist to help determine which treatment option is the best for you.

Light Therapy

Originally developed for Navy seals to help wounds heal quicker, light therapy has been shown to be highly therapeutic for skin. Learn More


Cyclosporine is used in a number of conditions where the immune system behaves erratically. Learn More

Biologic Injectables

Biologic injectables (Humira, Enbrel, Taltz, Stelara, Cosentyx) are biologics designed to be injected subcutaneously into the skin. Learn More

Intralesional Injection

Intralesional injection is a process whereby a corticosteroid is injected directly into a skin lesion or irregular growth. Learn More

Oral and Topical Medications

Dermatologists are experts in bacterial, viral and fungal infections in the skin and have a deep knowledge of how to best use antibiotics, antiviral and antifungal medications. Learn More

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