Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder. It’s considered an autoimmune disease. This means your immune system harms your body instead of protecting it. More than 7.5 million people in the United States have this condition.
This disease causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin. Psoriasis typically affects the outside of the elbows, knees or scalp, though it can appear on any location. Some people report that psoriasis is itchy, burns and stings.
There are different types of psoriasis, and it’s possible to have more than one type
The signs and Symptoms can vary depending on the type of psoriasis you have. The 5 most common symptoms include.
- Rashes or patches of red, inflamed skin, often covered with loose, silver-colored scales. In severe cases, the plaques will grow and merge into one another, covering large areas.
- Itchy, painful skin that can crack or bleed.
- Small areas of bleeding where the involved skin is scratched.
- Problems with your fingernails and toenails, including discoloration and pitting. The nails may also begin to crumble or detach from the nail bed.
- Scaly plaques on the scalp.
While scientists do not know what exactly causes psoriasis, we do know that the immune system and genetics play major roles in its development. Usually, something triggers psoriasis to flare. The skin cells in people with psoriasis grow at an abnormally fast rate, which causes the buildup of psoriasis lesions.
Men and women develop psoriasis at equal rates. Psoriasis also occurs in all racial groups, but at varying rates. About 1.9 percent of African-Americans have psoriasis, compared to 3.6 percent of Caucasians. According to current studies, more than 8 million Americans have psoriasis.
Psoriasis often develops between the ages of 15 and 35, but it can develop at any age. About 10 to 15 percent of those with psoriasis get it before age 10. Some infants have psoriasis, although this is considered rare.
Psoriasis is not contagious. It is not something you can “catch” or that others can catch from you. Psoriasis lesions are not infectious.
What Causes Flare-ups?
Every person with this condition has its own triggers. Things that cause your psoriasis to become active may not affect another person.
If you find out what causes your skin to flare up, you will be better able to control your symptoms.
Psoriasis is an immune system problem. Certain triggers may make your symptoms worse, including
- Cold, dry weather. Any climate that relieves dry skin will help. Try to spend some time in warm sunny weather and high humidity.
- Stress. Keep calm and try to stay relaxed. Outbreaks are more likely to pop up when you are anxious.
- Some medicines. These include some ”beta-blocker” drugs used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease; lithium, a treatment for bipolar disorder; and pills taken to treat malaria. Tell your doctor if you have psoriasis and are being treated for any of these conditions.
- Infections. There is a shortlist of infections including strep throat and tonsillitis that can trigger a special kind of psoriasis outbreak. It looks like small drops that show up mainly on your torso and limbs. HIV infection can also make it worse.
- Skin Injury. In some people, the tiniest cuts, bruises, and burns can cause an outbreak. Even tattoos and bug bites might trigger a new lesion. You can wear gloves or put on an extra layer of clothes to avoid a break in your skin.
- Alcohol. Drinking, especially heavy drinking in young men, may trigger or worsen symptoms and interfere with treatments. Combining certain psoriasis medications with alcohol can have dangerous side effects, especially for women in their child-bearing years.
- Smoking. Using tobacco or being around second-hand smoke raises your risk of getting psoriasis and makes existing conditions worse.
How is psoriasis diagnosed?
There are no special blood tests or tools to diagnose psoriasis. A dermatologist (the doctor who specializes in skin diseases) or other health care provider usually examines the affected skin and determines if it is psoriasis.
Your doctor may take a piece of the affected skin (a biopsy) and examine it under the microscope. When biopsied, psoriasis skin looks thicker and inflamed when compared to skin with eczema.
Your doctor also will want to learn about your family history. About one-third of people with psoriasis have a family member with the disease.
Types of Psoriasis
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the disease and appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery-white buildup of dead skin cells. These patches or plaques most often show up on the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back. They are often itchy and painful, and they can crack and bleed.
Guttate [GUH-tate] psoriasis is a form of psoriasis that appears as small, dot-like lesions. Guttate psoriasis often starts in childhood or young adulthood and can be triggered by a strep infection. This is the second-most common type of psoriasis, after plaque psoriasis. About 10 percent of people who get psoriasis develop guttate psoriasis.
Flexural or Inverse Psoriasis
Inverse psoriasis shows up as very red lesions in body folds, such as behind the knee, under the arm or in the groin. It may appear smooth and shiny. Many people have another type of psoriasis elsewhere on the body at the same time.
Pustular [PUHS-choo-lar] psoriasis in characterized by white pustules (blisters of noninfectious pus) surrounded by red skin. The pus consists of white blood cells. It is not an infection, nor is it contagious. Pustular psoriasis can occur on any part of the body but occurs most often on the hands or feet.
Erythrodermic [eh-REETH-ro-der-mik] psoriasis is a particularly severe form of psoriasis that leads to widespread, fiery redness over most of the body. It can cause severe itching and pain, and make the skin come off in sheets. It is rare, occurring in 3 percent of people who have psoriasis during their lifetime. It generally appears on people who have unstable plaque psoriasis.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a painful and physically limiting condition that affects between 10 and 30 percent of people with psoriasis. There are five types of PsA with varying symptoms. There is also no cure for this type of psoriasis.
Because psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, it can trigger the body to attack the joints and the skin. It can affect many joints and often becomes quite severe in the hands. Skin symptoms usually appear before joint symptoms.
Although not an official type of psoriasis, nail psoriasis is a manifestation of psoriasis. The condition can often be confused with fungal infections and other infections of the nail.
Nail psoriasis can cause:
- nail pitting
- loosening or crumbling of the nail
- thickened skin under the nail
- colored patches or spots under the nail
Sometimes the nail can even crumble and fall off. There is no cure for psoriatic nails, but some treatments may improve the health and appearance of nails.
Scalp psoriasis is common in people with plaque psoriasis. For some people, it may cause severe dandruff. For others, it can be painful, itchy, and very noticeable at the hairline. Scalp psoriasis can extend to the neck, face, and ears in one large patch or many smaller patches.
In some cases, scalp psoriasis can complicate regular hair hygiene. Excessive scratching can cause hair loss and scalp infections. The condition may also cause feelings of social stress.
Self-care for psoriasis
Although there is no one cure for any form of psoriasis, remission and significant healing is possible. Your doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan that helps manage your condition. You can also take steps at home to manage psoriasis.
These can include:
- practicing relaxation techniques to reduce stress
- moisturizing dry skin
- quitting smoking
- avoiding products that irritate your skin
- wearing comfortable clothing that doesn’t rub the psoriasis
- eating a healthy diet
Doctors may slowly build-up to the most effective treatment plan for your psoriasis symptoms. Most start with a topical or light therapy treatment and only progress to systemic medications if the first line of treatment is unsuccessful.
Where does psoriasis show up?
Psoriasis can show up anywhere—on the eyelids, ears, mouth, and lips, skin folds, hands and feet, and nails. The skin at each of these sites is different and requires different treatments.
Light therapy or topical treatments are often used when psoriasis is limited to a specific part of the body. However, doctors may prescribe oral or injectable drugs if the psoriasis is widespread or greatly affects your quality of life. Effective treatments are available, no matter where your psoriasis is located.
No matter how severe your scalp psoriasis is, there are options for treating the itching and flakes – from over-the-counter shampoos and topicals to light therapy, oral treatments, and biologics.
Mild scalp psoriasis appears as fine scaling, while severe scalp psoriasis is noted by thick, crusted plaques covering the large portions of the scalp. Psoriasis can extend beyond the hairline to the forehead, back of the neck and around the ears.
Other skin disorders, such as seborrheic dermatitis, may look similar to psoriasis. However, scalp psoriasis appears powdery with a silvery sheen, while seborrheic dermatitis looks yellowish and greasy.
Facial psoriasis most often affects the eyebrows, the skin between the nose and upper lip, the upper forehead and the hairline. Psoriasis on and around the face should be treated carefully because the skin here is sensitive.
Hands, Feet, and Nails
Treat sudden flares of psoriasis on the hands and feet promptly and carefully. In some cases, cracking, blisters and swelling accompany flares. Nail changes occur in up to 50 percent of people with psoriasis and at least 80 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis.
The most common type of psoriasis in the genital region is inverse psoriasis, but other forms of psoriasis can appear on the genitals, especially in men. Genital psoriasis requires careful treatment and care.
Inverse psoriasis can occur in skin folds such as the armpits and under the breasts. This form of psoriasis is frequently irritated by rubbing and sweating.
Treatment of Psoriasis
Treatment of Psoriasis is very difficult. Some medications available and can be used with Dermatologist advice.
Wild Naturals Eczema Psoriasis Shampoo – Conditioner Set 8oz, 98% Natural, 80% Organic, Sulfate-Free, Soothing Anti Dandruff, Flaky, Itchy, Dry Scalp Treatment for Seborrheic Dermatitis, Damaged Hair
- MANUKA HONEY, found only in New Zealand, is included for it’s anti-bacterial and special healing qualities. You’ll notice our first ingredient isn’t water – it’s ORGANIC ALOE VERA which soothes and moisturizes deep into your skin. And with CEHAMI, found only in Australia, to stop itching and redness quickly.
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- QUALITY INGREDIENTS – This is a non-medicated, concentrated, natural shampoo with no water added – a common first ingredient in other haircare products – we use aloe instead. It’s hypoallergenic and made without harsh chemicals – no SLS, no sulfates, no parabens, no dyes, no fragrance, and no animal testing
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Psoriasis Cream and Lotion
Wild Naturals Eczema Psoriasis Cream – for Dry, Irritated Skin, Itch Relief, Dermatitis, Rosacea, and Shingles. Natural 15-in-1 Formula Promotes Healing and Calms Redness, Rash and Itching Fast
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Puriya Intensive Moisturizing Cream for Sensitive and Irritated Skin, Dermatologist Reviewed, Clinically Tested Plant Rich Formula, Soothes Rough, Dry, Scaly Patches, Trusted by 300,000 Families
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Psoriasis & Eczema Cream – Natural Eczema Treatment with Tea Tree Oil, MSM, Honey & Arnica – Made in USA – Powerful Dermatitis, Irritation & Psoriasis Treatment – Steroid-Free Psoriasis Cream – 4OZ
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Psoriasis Oil and Ointment
Pur360 Tamanu Oil – Pure Cold Pressed – Best Treatment for Psoriasis, Eczema, Acne Scar, Foot Fungus, Rosacea – Relief for Dry, Scaly Skin, Scalp and More
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- CERTIFIED ORGANIC: Our Tamanu Oil is certified organic by BioGrow, New Zealand’s leading organic certifier. The Tamanu trees used for our oil grow naturally without pesticides or herbicides.
- One 4 oz jar of MG217 Psoriasis Multi-Symptom Relief 2% Coal Tar Medicated Ointment
- Made with active ingredient coal tar to help slow cell overgrowth to provide psoriasis relief
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- Psoriasis treatment restores healthy appearance of skin while fighting seborrheic dermatitis
- Multi-symptom medicated ointment designed to retain skin’s natural moisture