Psoriasis

Definition

Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease. Knees, elbows, scalp, trunk, and nails are the most commonly affected areas. There are several types of psoriasis:
  • Plaque—inflamed patches of skin topped with silvery, white scales (most common type)
  • Guttate—small, dot-like lesions
  • Pustular—weeping lesions and intense scaling
  • Inverse (intertriginous)—inflamed patches of skin in body folds (armpits, groin, under breasts)
  • Erythrodermic—intense sloughing and inflammation of nearly the entire skin
Psoriasis
Psoriasis
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

The cause of psoriasis is unclear. Signals from a defect in the immune system may result in an overgrowth of skin cells. Because the cells grow faster than they can be shed, they pile up on the skin's surface. The excess skin cells are thought to cause the silvery white scales that are characteristic of plaque-type psoriasis.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk include:
  • Family history of psoriasis
  • Cold climates
  • Suppression of the immune system, including AIDS
  • Certain bacterial infections
  • Certain medications, such as beta blockers, tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors, and lithium
  • Smoking

Symptoms

The red, thickened, and rough patches of psoriasis may occur anywhere, but are commonly found on the scalp, elbows, knees, palms, and soles. Other symptoms include:
  • Silvery white scales
  • Pitted or dented fingernails and/or toenails
  • Red lesion in folds of skin
  • Joint pain suggesting arthritis
The skin may also be sore, burning, or itchy depending on the type of psoriasis.The rashes may come and go.

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