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Psoriasis: Introduction

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder marked by raised areas of thickened skin and lesions made up of dead skin cells. Psoriasis results from an abnormal process in which new skin cells are made faster than old skin cells are cast off.

Symptoms of psoriasis occur in outbreaks and include red or pink patches of thickened skin that are covered with whitish scales. These areas can be itchy.

The appearance, severity, symptoms, and triggers of psoriasis vary between individuals. Uncomplicated psoriasis is generally not a serious condition, but itching and scratching can lead to increased inflammation, open breaks in the skin, and a secondary bacterial infection or fungal infection of the surrounding skin and tissues. This is called cellulitis and can be potentially serious.

Symptoms of psoriasis most often affects the knees, elbows, lower back and scalp. Psoriasis can also affect the nails, and some people with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis. For more information on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of psoriasis.

The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, but it is linked to an abnormal response of the immune system and appears to have a genetic component. Psoriasis is not contagious, but it may be triggered by stress, sunburn, skin injury, excessive alcohol consumption or a weak immune system. It can also occur at any time of life.

A diagnosis of psoriasis begins by taking a thorough health history, including symptoms, and performing a physical exam. A microscopic examination of a sample of the skin affected by suspected psoriasis may be done to confirm a diagnosis.

Because the symptoms of psoriasis may be similar to other skin conditions, such as dermatitis or fungal infections of the skin, a misdiagnosis is possible. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of psoriasis.

There is currently no cure for psoriasis, but the condition can be controlled to minimize outbreaks with a good treatment plan individualized to a person's medical history, severity of psoriasis, and other factors.

Treatment begins with the prevention of flare-ups. This includes an integrated plan to reduce exposure to substances and conditions that trigger flare-ups. A variety of topical and oral medications may also be prescribed. Another type of treatment that may be effective for some people with psoriasis is phototherapy.

A combination of treatments that include lifestyle changes with medications and other treatments as appropriate is the most effective way to best control psoriasis. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of psoriasis. ...more »

Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a chronic (long-lasting) skin disease characterized by scaling and inflammation. Scaling occurs when cells in the outer layer of the skin ... more about Psoriasis.

Psoriasis: Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition where the defective immune system causes skin cells to grow rapidly. It affects a significant number of people. Arthritis, which can be severe, is associated with the psoriasis in up to a third of cases. Not all patients who are susceptible to the condition will develop it - roughly 10% of those susceptible will actually develop the condition. There are various environmental factors which can trigger the onset of the disease e.g. strep throat (common trigger), some medication, stress and cold weather. Once the disease develops, it may resolve on its own or with treatment or may become a persistent chronic condition. The severity and duration of symptoms is variable. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Psoriasis is available below.

Psoriasis: Animations

Psoriasis: Broader Related Topics


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