Psoriasis is a skin disorder that causes excess skin cells to build up on the body and lead to the development of skin patches. It is caused by the body’s own immune system telling it to grow new skin cells more quickly than normal. Psoriasis is not contagious, and it affects nearly 8 million Americans. There is a genetic component to the disease – a person is more likely to get psoriasis if a relative has it.
Types of Psoriasis
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type. It causes raised, reddish and itchy patches that can appear almost anywhere on the skin. Another type is known as guttate psoriasis. This typically causes red spots that cover an entire area. The legs, arms and torso are the most common areas, but it can also affect the head. Pustular psoriasis produces pus-filled bumps, usually on the hands and feet. Inverse psoriasis is known for its red patches that look like raw skin, usually where skin touches skin, like in the armpits. Finally, there is erythrodermic psoriasis. This form is rare but dangerous. It causes most of the body’s skin to appear bright red, and it also affects body temperature and heart rate.
Treatment of Psoriasis
There are a number of different treatments that can reduce the symptoms of psoriasis and improve quality of life for those with the disease. For mild to moderate psoriasis, the first options that are often tried are topical treatments that can be prescribed or purchased over the counter. Another treatment is phototherapy, which involves exposing the body to ultraviolet light to reduce symptoms. This can be done in a doctor’s office or at home with a phototherapy unit. For moderate to severe psoriasis, there are medications that can help combat psoriasis by working on the body’s immune response. These drugs are known as biologics and systemics.
SOURCES: American Academy of Dermatology; National Psoriasis Foundation
Patients diagnosed with psoriasis are at increased risk of mental health disorders.