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Psoriasis: How Does It Affect the Skin?

Psoriasis: How Does It Affect the Skin?
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skin conditions

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes patches of abnormal skin. These patches are typically red, itchy and scaly and can be localized to one area or be widespread all over the body. The stomach, back, forearms and scalp are most often affected by psoriasis.

What Causes Psoriasis?

Most cases of psoriasis are thought to be genetic, with patients having a family member who also suffers from the condition. The following factors or conditions can exacerbate psoriasis and stimulate flare-ups:

  • Medications
    • Beta blockers
    • NSAIDS
    • Calcium channel blockers
  • Climate Changes
    • Excessive heat
  • Obesity
  • HIV
  • Cigarette-smoking
  • Stress
  • Alcoholism

Types of Psoriasis

Plaque Psoriasis

Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. It affects about 90% of patients and is characterized by raised areas of inflamed skin, typically on the elbows, knees, scalp and back.

Pustular Psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis is characterized by raised, tender bumps that are filled with noninfectious pus.

Inverse Psoriasis

Inverse psoriasis is characterized by smooth, irritated patches of skin, most often found in the skin folds around the genitals and buttocks.

Napkin Psoriasis

Napkin psoriasis is found on infants and characterized by red papules that form in the diaper area and sometimes the torso and limbs.

Guttate Psoriasis

Guttate psoriasis is characterized by small red or pink lesions that appear in large quantities around the torso, limbs and scalp.


Psoriasis Symptoms

  • Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
  • Small scaly patches
  • Dry, cracked skin
  • Bleeding skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Burning skin
  • Patches of irritated skin
  • Thick or ridged nails
  • Swollen and stiff joints

Diagnosing Psoriasis

Your primary care physician can diagnose psoriasis, but they will likely refer you to a dermatologist for confirmation and treatment. A dermatologist may perform a skin biopsy, a test in which a small sample of skin is removed and examined under a microscope. This can confirm psoriasis and determine the type.

Treating Psoriasis

There is no cure for psoriasis, but then symptoms can be managed in various ways. Topical treatments and prescription medications can reduce the inflammation and irritation of the skin. In moderate to severe cases of psoriasis, phototherapy may be used. Phototherapy uses ultraviolet light to reduce the severity of psoriasis symptoms.

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