Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that ranges in severity from bothersome to debilitation and affects more than 7 million Americans. Psoriasis causes cells to build up on the skin's surface too quickly, resulting in the formation of thick, scaly skin patches called plaques.
Although symptoms of psoriasis typically depend on the type and severity of the condition, some symptoms psoriasis sufferers may experience include:
- Red, raised plaques that can crack or bleed
- Loose, silver skin scales
- Burning, itching skin
- Crusted plaques on the scalp
- Nail discoloration and pitting
- Joint stiffness and pain
Types of Psoriasis
There are six types of psoriasis, the most common of which are plaque psoriasis and guttate psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is characterized by dry, red skin plaques, or raised patches, with silvery scales, while guttate psoriasis is characterized by smaller, finer plaques and typically occurs in young adults and children.
Other types of psoriasis include inverse psoriasis, which involves less scaling and larger areas of inflamed, dry skin, and pustular psoriasis, which involves scaly plaques with pus-filled sores and nail symptoms.
Erythrodermic psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are more severe forms of psoriasis. Erythrodermic psoriasis affects most of the body, leaving it covered in a bright red, inflamed rash that burns and itches, while psoriatic arthritis involves joint stiffness, swelling and pain.
Psoriasis Causes & Triggers
Although T cells, or lymphocytes, are white blood cells that are very important to the immune system, overactive T cells trigger a chain reaction in the autoimmune response that causes new skin cells to form at the skin's surface much faster than they should. An overabundance of epidermal tissue results in areas of thick, scaly tissue.
Researchers do not yet know what causes this malfunction in the T cells, however they believe genetic and environmental factors may play a role.
Illnesses that weaken the immune system, especially strep infection, may trigger a psoriasis outbreak, as well as stress or emotional trauma. Physical trauma, such as a cut or scrape, may also trigger a psoriasis flare-up, as can certain medications, smoking, alcohol consumption and dry skin.
Temporary treatment for active psoriasis flare-ups may involve topical corticosteroid treatments, the strongest of which is Clobex spray, as well as over-the-counter skin moisturizers or gels. Topical psoriasis treatment products that contain the following ingredients may also be effective:
- Coal tar (Scytera foam and Drithrocreme)
- Salicylic acid (over-the-counter hair care products)
- Vitamin D analogues (Vectical and Taclonex ointment)
- Retinoids (Tazorac cream or gel)
Would you like to learn more about Psoriasis Treatment? Call 212-772-7242 to schedule a consultation at Sadick Dermatology.