Understanding Psoriasis

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a life-long inflammatory disease that generally affects the skin and joints. There are five different types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular, and erythrodermic. Plaque psoriasis is the most common. It appears as scaling, raised, and red patches of skin. The patches are called “plaques.” 80% to 90% of people who have any type of psoriasis have plaques1. The plaques usually appear on the outside of the elbows, knees, or on the scalp, although they can appear on any location. Some people report that the plaques itch, sting, or feel sore.

Who develops psoriasis?

Psoriasis is common.  It affects more than 7.5 million people in the US1, or about 2% of the US population. Psoriasis usually develops between the ages of 15 and 35 but can occur at any age2. People of all ethnicities can develop psoriasis, although it is more common in people of European heritage who have white skin. Psoriasis affects men and women about equally.

What causes psoriasis?

While the exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, scientists believe that it develops from a combination of genetics and from triggers that affect the immune system.2 Triggers of plaque psoriasis outbreaks include:

  • Stress
  • Infection
  • Skin injury
  • Some medications1,2
  • Weather1

Psoriasis is not contagious.

Psoriasis can increase the risk of developing certain diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, Crohn’s Disease, and depression. Therefore, it’s a good idea to become educated about the condition. To learn more about conditions associated with psoriatic disease, go to: https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/related-conditions

How does psoriasis affect quality of life?

Some people with psoriasis report emotional responses in addition to physical symptoms, such as itchiness and soreness. Emotional effects of psoriasis can include feelings of embarrassment, worry, and depression.

In fact, studies have shown that the quality of life impact of psoriasis is comparable with other conditions that are often considered to be more severe.  Patients with psoriasis reported a reduction in physical and mental functioning comparable to that seen in patients with cancer, arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and depression.4

How is psoriasis treated?

Psoriasis treatment depends upon the type and severity of the condition. Treatments include:

Biologics: Injections or IV infusions of protein-based drugs cultured in a laboratory. Biologics are generally prescribed for moderate to severe psoriasis who have not responded to other treatments.2

Systemics: Oral drugs or injections for moderate to severe psoriasis that work throughout the body.

Phototherapy or light therapy: Usually ultraviolet light administered in multiple visits at a doctor’s office.

Topicals: Administered directly to the skin and are the first medications most often prescribed by doctors for patients with psoriasis. Examples of topicals include moisturizers, vitamin D, coal tar, and steroids.

New therapies: There are new oral treatments available. There are also new home care treatments available for mild to moderate psoriasis. They use ultraviolet light alone or a combination of ultraviolet light and medicated patches.

How do I know if I have psoriasis?

If you think you may have symptoms of psoriasis, you can make an appointment with a dermatologist. The doctor will be able to make a diagnosis based upon your symptoms. Please remember that although psoriasis is a long-term condition, it is treatable! To find a doctor in your area click the button below.

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  1. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/scaly-skin/psoriasis/who-gets-psoriasis-and-what-causes-it
  2. National Psoriasis Foundation https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/causes
  3. The Voice of the Patient: A series of reports from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Patient-Focused Drug Development Initiative, Psoriasis, November 2016
  4. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology:  Psoriasis causes as much disability as other major medical diseases, September 1999