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Home Science Diseases & Conditions Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin disease that affects approximately 2 to 3% of the world population or 125 million people worldwide1,2. In the U.S, more than 8 million adults have psoriasis2.

  • Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes skin cells to reproduce at a faster rate than normal 1.  As a result, the life cycle of cells is sped up and an excess of them can form inflamed patches of skin that may occur anywhere on the body, especially on the elbow, knees, lower back and scalp 3,6. Psoriasis may be associated with other chronic conditions such as psoriatic arthritis, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease1.

  • Psoriasis can occur in children or adults; however, peak onset of psoriasis often occurs between the ages of 15 to 35 years, and about 10-15% of people with psoriasis get it before age 104. It is found equally in men and women and can occur in all racial groups4

    Researchers do not know the actual cause of psoriasis; however, they believe that the immune system and genetics may contribute to the cause4

    There are triggers that may cause psoriasis to appear, such as5:

    • Stress
    • Cuts or bad sunburn
    • Infection
    • Certain medications
    • Cold and dry weather
    • Tobacco
    • Heavy alcohol use
  • Symptoms may include6:

    • Dry, thick, raised patches
    • Silvery white coating called scales.
    • Itchiness

    Plaque psoriasis, the most common type of psoriasis, causes well-defined, thick, silvery-white scaly patches, commonly found on areas like the elbows, knees, the scalp and lower back7.

  • Psoriasis may look like other skin conditions, making it hard to diagnose8.  There are no blood tests or tools to diagnose psoriasis9. A doctor or dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in skin conditions) will examine the skin and may take a biopsy of the affected skin to look at it under a microscope9.  Skin with psoriasis may look thicker and inflamed compared to other skin conditions9.

  • Unfrequently, there is no cure for psoriasis11. There are many different treatment options. Typical therapies include topical treatments (medicine applied to the skin), phototherapy (treatment with ultraviolet light therapy), treatment taken by mouth or injection (systemic), and treatments called “biologic” (injections or infusions) which target specific immune-system proteins known to play a role in psoriasis inflammation10.

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