Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition characterised by skin cells that multiply up to ten times faster than normal. The extra skin cells form thick, silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that are sometimes painful. It typically occurs on the knees, elbows and scalp, and can also affect the torso, palms and soles of the feet. Although it is not contagious, Psoriasis is known to run in families. It can be seen in people of any age, but most commonly patients are first diagnosed in their early adult years. Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff like scaling on the scalp to major eruptions that cover large areas.
Most types of psoriasis go through cycles, flaring for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a time or even going into complete remission. The cause of psoriasis is not fully known, but a combination of elements including genes, environmental factors and defects in immune regulation, are thought to play major roles. Factors that may trigger psoriasis include infections, such as strep throat, stress, cold weather, injury to the skin, smoking and alcohol.
While there is currently no cure, the condition can be managed with treatments and lifestyle measures. Ongoing research is actively making progress on finding better treatments and a possible cure in the future.
Psoriasis signs and symptoms can vary from person to person depending on the type they have, but may include one or more of the following:
Although treatments are based on the type and severity of psoriasis and the areas of skin affected, the traditional approach is to start with the mildest treatments and then progress to stronger ones only if necessary. The goal is to find the most effective way to slow cell turnover with the fewest possible side effects.
If you are worried you or your child has psoriasis, please visit your local medical doctor for medical diagnosis and treatment.