SUMMARY: Psoriasis is a common skin condition that tends to be hereditary. It speeds up the life cycle of skin cells causing them to build up at the skin surfacei. It can flare-up during periods of stress, infection, injury to the skin or when using certain medications. The classic symptoms of psoriasis are raised, red plaques covered in silvery scales found on areas such as the knees, elbows, abdomen, lower back and the scalp.ii
The exact cause of psoriasis is still a mystery to doctors and scientists. Research has shown that the immune system and genetics play major roles in its developmentiii. Psoriasis can be treated with creams, light therapy, certain oral medications such as methotrexate, spa therapy or injectable "biologics."
WHAT IS PSORIASISPsoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin diseasev. It is "chronic" because it can last for long periods of time or reoccur, and "inflammatory" because it involves an over-activation of the immune systemvi. Psoriasis tends to occur in people with a genetic predisposition to the condition (meaning it can be hereditary). It often begins in adulthood and tends to flare up at times of stress. There are several different subtypes of psoriasis (plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic). In this article we will focus on plaque psoriasis which makes up 90% of casesvii.
WHAT CAUSES & TRIGGERS PSORIASIS: INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL AGGRESORSAs discussed earlier on scientists do not know the exact causes of psoriasis but they do know that the immune system and genetics play a role. Different triggers can result in psoriasis symptoms.iii
Below are some common triggers of psoriasis:iii
- Illness (ear infection, strep throat, etc)iii
- Certain common medications including beta-blockers, NSAIDs (ibuprofen, diclofenac, etc.), lithium and malaria treatmentsviii
- Clothing that rubs against skinviii
- Injury to the skin such as sunburn or tattoos can bring on flare-ups. This is called the Koebner phenomenonviii
What does psoriasis look like?In plaque psoriasis, people develop rough red patches of thickened skin covered in white scales. These plaques are most frequently found on areas that are subject to friction: knees, elbows, abdomen and lower back. They can also be found on the scalp, hands and feet. Psoriasis sufferers often develop nail changes in the form of pitting or splitting of the nails (known as onycholysis).ix
If you have psoriasis, keep reading to discover your psoriasis treatment options.