September 19, 2014
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

 Health Home >> Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) >> Related conditions 

Psoriasis

(Chronic Plaque Psoriasis, Pustular Psoriasis, Erythrodermic Psoriasis, Guttate Psoriasis)

The Facts on Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin disease that affects almost 10 million people across North America. About 250,000 people are diagnosed each year with psoriasis in North America. Psoriasis usually appears between the ages of 15 and 35 and the average age at diagnosis is 28, but people of any age can be affected.

In the most common form of psoriasis, plaque psoriasis, certain areas of the skin develop red patches of various sizes, covered with dry, silvery scales. The skin lesions can be painful and itchy. Inflammation will come and go for people with psoriasis, and presently there is no known cure.

Is it time to see your doctor about
managing your psoriasis treatment?

Use this treatment check-up tool to find out!


Psoriasis Treatment Check-Up Tool

 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17 



YES      NO


Your doctor can help you find an appropriate treatment so you can enjoy a better quality of life. See the Psoriasis Treatment Options Chart.

Make an appointment with your doctor.
Use the Doctor Discussion Guide to help you prepare for your visit. At your appointment, you can also:

  • Tell your doctor about your questions and concerns, what you are feeling, and what you want out of treatment.
  • Ask your doctor whether you should see a dermatologist who specializes in psoriasis.

Do you have psoriasis?

Learn more about psoriasis symptoms and treatments in our psoriasis channel.


However, it is still important to keep your regular appointments with your doctor to monitor your psoriasis treatment. Keep in mind that things may change, so if you do have questions or concerns about your treatment in the future, talk to your doctor.

You can use the Doctor Discussion Guide to help you prepare for your visit. You can also locate a dermatologist in your area.


Do you have psoriasis?

Learn more about psoriasis symptoms and treatments in our psoriasis channel.

sponsored by  

Other resources about psoriasis:



Causes of Psoriasis

Doctors don't know what causes psoriasis. However, they do know that the certain cells of the immune system known as T-cells are involved in the inflammation. One theory is that the T-cells are triggered and become overactive in psoriasis. It is suspected that there's a genetic element; however, psoriasis can appear in children who have no family history of the disease. It is estimated that there is a 10% chance of a person developing psoriasis if they have one parent with the condition and a 30% chance if both parents are affected. This compares with a 2% to 4% incidence of psoriasis in the general population.

The process of inflammation is less of a mystery. Normally, skin cells reproduce just fast enough to replace dying cells on the surface, so that there is always about the same number of skin layers. However, when the skin is wounded, cells go into overdrive. Cells reproduce much faster, and extra blood is pumped to the site to help with wound healing. The result is redness and inflammation.

In psoriasis, undamaged skin goes into the wound-repair cycle. New cells appear and push their way to the surface faster than they can be shed. The extra cells create a raised area. The cells on top receive no blood. They quickly die to form the scaly white crust associated with psoriasis lesions. What is normally a 28- to 30-day process to shed and replace skin cells takes only 3 to 5 days in psoriasis.

Sometimes, psoriasis flare-ups can be provoked by external triggers. Possible triggers of flare-ups include:

  • alcohol consumption
  • allergic reactions to medications
  • chicken pox
  • cold weather
  • diseases that reduce the effectiveness of the immune system (e.g., HIV)
  • hormonal changes
  • infection from bacteria or viruses: A certain kind of lesion often appears for people with psoriasis after they've had a cold or a bacterial throat infection.
  • immunizations
  • medications (e.g., antimalarials, beta-blockers, and some anti-inflammatories)
  • overusing or suddenly stopping the use of corticosteroid medications, (often used to treat psoriasis)
  • physical trauma or skin injury
  • psychological stress
  • severe sunburn
  • smoking




Symptoms and Complications of Psoriasis

The typical psoriasis lesion is a sharply defined red area covered in white or silvery scales. This is plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the disease. The knees, elbows, scalp, trunk, and outer sides of the arms and legs are the areas most frequently affected.

Guttate psoriasis gets its name from Latin for "drops," because the lesions are often teardrop-shaped. When a flare-up is provoked by illness or medication, it's often guttate in form. Guttate lesions usually occur on the trunk, arms, and legs.

Inverse psoriasis is particularly painful. Normally, psoriasis affects the skin around the outside of joints. Inverse psoriasis affects the folds of the skin - the armpits, for example, or the groin. The tendency of these areas to sweat and rub together makes for extra discomfort. In addition, they're more vulnerable to fungal infection.

In erythrodermic psoriasis, there are no individual lesions - the whole affected area is red and inflamed. In severe cases, the whole body can be covered.

In pustular psoriasis, the white blood cells rise to the surface to fill pustules. It is often found on the hands and the soles of the feet.

Sometimes psoriasis affects the nails. These can become brittle and cracked, or they may even separate from their beds.

These types of psoriasis aren't separate diseases - they are different symptoms of the same disease. In some cases, one person will have more than one type of psoriasis.

The most common complications of psoriasis are psychological - it affects a person's self-esteem, sociability, and quality of life. At worst, people can cut themselves off completely from the outside world. Fortunately, psoriasis lesions don't leave permanent scars on the skin, although the lesions may recur.

Psoriatic arthritis is a serious complication of psoriasis. This immune disease affects up to 30% of all psoriasis sufferers. Essentially, the same immune activity that affects the skin also attacks the joints. The disease is just as debilitating as rheumatoid arthritis, and affects the same joints: hands, feet, knees, hips, and spine.

Continued... 1 | 2 | Next

Ad

The contents of this site are for informational purposes only and are meant to be discussed with your physician or other qualified health care professional before being acted on. Never disregard any advice given to you by your doctor or other qualified health care professional. Always seek the advice of a physician or other licensed health care professional regarding any questions you have about your medical condition(s) and treatment(s). This site is not a substitute for medical advice.

© 1996 - 2014 MediResource Inc. - MediResource reaches millions of Canadians each year.