This is a common skin condition which is characterized by thick, red skin with flaky, silver-white patches. The patches of scaly skin usually form on the elbows, knees, other parts of the leg, scalp, lower back, face, palms and soles of the feet, and usually itch or feel sore. About a third of people with the disorder experience joint inflammation that produces symptoms of arthritis. The disease may also affect the fingernails, the toenails, and the soft tissues of the genitals, and inside the mouth. Greater than three percent of the population is affected by this disease, or more than five million adults. It occurs in all ages, but primarily affects adults. It is generally a chronic, or long-lasting disease.
What Causes This Condition?
Sometimes a person’s immune system sends the wrong signals to skin cells, and these skin cells grow too quickly. New skin cells form in days, when they normally form within weeks. This creates an excess, and the body doesn’t shed the excess. Skin cells begin piling up on the surface of the skin, causing the patchy, flaky look that is common in people suffering from this condition.
Is It a Dangerous Disease?
Psoriasis is not contagious or life threatening. The disease is inherited in genes. According to British research, however, people in their 40s with severe psoriasis are more than twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than people without the skin disease. Mild forms of the disease only slightly increase the chances for heart attack. It is important to seek treatment.
Are There Different Types of Psoriasis?
Those with psoriasis have one or more of these types:
What Forms of Treatment Are There?
Many prescription drugs have been approved to combat psoriasis. Ultraviolet light treatment, also called phototherapy, is sometimes used as treatment. One medication available is called Sorilux, for scalp psoriasis. Often these treatments can clear a patient’s skin completely.
Lifestyle changes may also be recommended by Dr. Myers, as studies show that there are ways to lower the risk of psoriasis. Obesity and smoking are tied to a higher risk of developing the disorder. Some research suggests that those who exercise frequently may be at less risk for developing the disorder. Stress, illness, and some medications may also contribute.
Dr. David Myers
Dr. David Myers is a board certified dermatologist and Fellow of the American Society for Mohs Surgery. His expertise and attention to detail make him a trusted doctor in his community.