What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease caused by the immune system resulting in the overproduction of skin cells. Cells begin developing over a few days rather than a few weeks. These extra skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin resulting in the patches or “plaques” of psoriasis.
Is psoriasis contagious?
Psoriasis is not contagious. You cannot get psoriasis by touching the skin of someone else who has it. To get psoriasis you must already have been born with the genes that cause it.
Who gets psoriasis?
Psoriasis is usually a genetic condition. Meaning, those who have psoriasis usually have one or more family member that also has the condition.
Psoriasis is common. About 7.5 million people in the US are affected by psoriasis according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
What causes psoriasis?
A person’s genetics and immune system are understood to be important factors of what causes psoriasis. Although, not everyone who have inherited the genes for psoriasis will have active flare ups if they are not exposed to a “trigger.”
Patients report that their psoriasis began for the first time following these types of events:
- Sunburn, scratch, cut or other skin injury
- Exposure to dry, cold weather
- After undergoing malaria prevention treatment
- Strep throat infection
- After taking particular medications like lithium
Types of Psoriasis
- The most common type of psoriasis – makes up around 80% of all psoriasis cases
- Causes thickened, white patches on the skin
- Usually covered with gray or white scaling
- Small red spots that usually appear on the abdomen, back, arms, and legs
- Usually develop after an illness, such as strep throat
- May resolve after a few weeks or months even without treatment
- Characterized by pus filled bumps that usually develop on the feet or hands
- May experience pain and soreness at the site of the bumps
Inverse (Flexural) psoriasis
- Develops at the sites where skin meets skin such as the armpit, buttocks, groin, and genitals. Women may also develop patches under the breasts.
- Patches of red skin that appears to be raw and smooth
- Skin appears to have been burned
- All or most of the body is extremely red
- Unable to maintain normal body temperature – Can feel very hot or very cold
How can I know if I have psoriasis?
Most of the time diagnosis of psoriasis can be achieved clinically by Dr. Shafa. She will examine your skin, ask about your family history, and other potential triggering factors such as stress or illness.
If psoriasis is in doubt, Dr. Shafa will take a tiny sample of your skin lesion for microscopic evaluation by a pathologist to confirm the diagnosis.
Once you have been diagnosed with psoriasis, Dr. Shafa will review all possible treatment options with you. In most cases, treatment is as simple as prescription of topical lotions, ointments or light therapy. In the rare instance that you have persistent flare ups of psoriasis, oral medications such as biologics may be needed. The good news is that your psoriasis can be resolved or well controlled under the care of an experienced physician, like Dr. Shafa.