Overview

What Is Psoriasis?

What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes red, inflamed, raised areas of skin that often develop as silvery scales on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back. Doctors estimate that 7.5 million people in the US have psoriasis.

What Causes Psoriasis of the Skin?

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes psoriasis. However, researchers think it’s caused by abnormally fast-growing and shedding skin cells. The skin cells multiply quickly, causing the skin to shed every three to four days.

Psoriasis isn’t contagious, but it is hereditary, which means that parents can pass it down to their children through their genes. Psoriasis is often recurrent, meaning people will have it multiple times. Some people have severe psoriasis, while others have only mild psoriasis.

 

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Symptoms

Each person may have different symptoms. This is because psoriasis can come in many forms and can range from mild to severe. The following are the most common symptoms of psoriasis:

  • Patches of red, raised skin on your trunk, arms, legs, knees, elbows, genitals, and scalp
  • Thick nails that are pitted against and separated from your nail bed
  • Small blisters containing pus (pustules) on your palm, soles, and other small areas or all over your body

Psoriasis Treatment

The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation and slow down how quickly your skin cells grow and then shed. Currently, there’s no cure for psoriasis. Treatment may include the following:

  • Ointments and creams to moisturize your skin
  • Being exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet light (under your doctor’s supervision)
  • Steroids (such as cortisone creams)
  • Vitamin D cream
  • Creams that have salicylic acid or coal tar
  • Anthralin, a drug that treats the thicker, hard-to-treat patches of psoriasis
  • Methotrexate, an anti-cancer drug that interrupts skin cell growth
  • Oral or topical retinoids
  • Immunosuppressive medications (such as Cyclosporine)

Our dermatologists will work with you to develop a treatment plan to meet your individual needs.