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.
There are several signs of psoriasis. Symptoms to look for include:
Between 10% and 30% of patients with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis, which causes pain and swelling in the joints.
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:
Patients with a personal or family history of psoriasis should avoid triggers as much as possible.
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:
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.
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.