What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a noncontagious, genetic disease of the immune system which affects the skin and/or joints. According to the National Institutes of Health, psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease, affecting as many as 7.5 million Americans. The most common form, plaque psoriasis, results in raised, red lesions covered by silvery white scales.
Plaque Psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris)
Plaque psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris) is the most prevalent form of the disease. About 80 percent of those who have psoriasis have this type. It is characterized by raised, inflamed, red lesions covered by a silvery white scale. It is typically found on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back.
Psoriasis can occur on any part of the body and is associated with other serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and depression.
Up to 30 percent of individuals with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis, which causes pain, stiffness and swelling in and around the joints.
Treating your psoriasis is critical to good disease management and overall health. Work with your doctor to find a treatment—or treatments—that reduce or eliminate your symptoms. What works for one person with psoriasis might not work for another. So it's important to know the different treatment options and keep trying until you find the right regimen for you.
Psoriasis can be limited to a few lesions or can involve moderate to large areas of skin. Having 3 to 10 percent of the body affected by psoriasis is generally considered to be a moderate case. More than 10 percent is considered severe. For most individuals, the palm of the hand is about the same as 1 percent of the skin surface. However, the severity of psoriasis can also be measured by how psoriasis affects a person's quality of life. Psoriasis can have a serious impact even if it involves a small area, such as the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
Treating moderate to severe psoriasis usually involves a combination of treatment strategies. Besides topical treatments, your doctor may prescribe phototherapy (also known as light therapy) and/or systemic medications, including biologic drugs.
The National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board urges psoriasis patients to work with their doctors to outline an appropriate preventative program based on individual medical histories and known risk factors to ensure they are continually monitoring for the potential onset of any health issues related to psoriasis.