Psoriasis

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a noncontagious skin condition that produces red papules that merge together into plaques of thickened, scaling skin. The dry flakes of skin scales are thought to result from the excessively rapid proliferation of skin cells that is triggered by abnormal lymphocytes. Psoriasis commonly affects the skin of the elbows, knees, and scalp.

Some people have such mild psoriasis (small, faint dry skin patches) that they may not even suspect that they have a medical skin condition. Others have very severe psoriasis where virtually their entire body is fully covered with thick, red, scaly skin.

Psoriasis is considered an incurable, long-term (chronic) skin condition. It has a variable course, periodically improving and worsening. It is not unusual for psoriasis to spontaneously clear for years and stay in remission. Many people note a worsening of their symptoms in the colder winter months.

Psoriasis affects all races and both sexes. Although psoriasis can be seen in people of any age, from babies to seniors, most commonly patients are first diagnosed in their early adult years. The quality of life of patients with psoriasis is often diminished because of the appearance of their skin. Recently, it has become clear that people with psoriasis are more likely to have diabetes, high blood lipids, and heart disease. There are speculations as to how this might relate to their joint and skin inflammation. Caring for psoriasis takes medical teamwork.

Reviewed on 5/16/2013