What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic (long-lasting) skin disease that causes raised, red patches on your skin. The raised patches may have silvery scales.
Psoriasis is common and can run in families
People with light skin get psoriasis more often than people with dark skin
Psoriasis usually starts when you're between ages 16 and 22 years or between ages 57 and 60 years
The patches can be large or small, and they can appear anywhere on your body, especially your elbows, knees, and scalp
Psoriasis can’t be cured, but the patches can go away for long periods of time and then come back
Doctors treat psoriasis with phototherapy (shining a UV light on your skin to heal it) and medicine
What causes psoriasis?
Doctors aren’t sure exactly what causes psoriasis. It may be a problem with your immune system Overview of the Immune System The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system's job is to attack things that don’t belong in your body, including: Germs... read more (the cells, tissues, and organs that protect your body from illness and infection). Psoriasis tends to run in families. That means if you have psoriasis some of your relatives may also have psoriasis.
Psoriasis tends to come and go, although some patches may never go away. Flare-ups are when it comes back or gets worse. Flare-ups can be triggered by:
Infections, such as colds and strep throat
High stress levels
Flare-ups are more common for people who are overweight, smoke tobacco, or have HIV infection Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection and AIDS The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a type of virus called a retrovirus. It causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), which is life-threatening. HIV is called an immunodeficiency... read more .
What are the symptoms of psoriasis?
One or more raised, red skin patches with silver scales on your scalp, elbows, knees, low back, or buttocks
Skin patches may also show up on your eyebrows, armpits, belly, around the anus, or between your buttocks
Sometimes, your fingernails are misshapen, thick, and pitted
The skin patches may:
Clear up after a few months
Stay the same
Develop on other parts of your body
Go away and not come back for years
The patches may itch or hurt. You may be bothered by the way they look.
Some people with psoriasis have other symptoms, such as swollen, painful joints or pus-filled blisters.
How can doctors tell if I have psoriasis?
Doctors usually can tell you have psoriasis by the way your skin patches look. If doctors aren't sure, they'll take a sample of your skin to look at under a microscope (biopsy).
How do doctors treat psoriasis?
Doctors will give you one or more treatments:
Medicines to put on your skin
Phototherapy (UV light that is shined on your skin to heal it)
Medicine given as pills or a shot—some of these medicines have side effects so they're only used to treat severe psoriasis