What is psoriasis? A chronic autoimmune condition, psoriasis causes skin cells to build up rapidly, creating scales on the skin’s surface. Typically, psoriatic scales are whitish-silver, developing in thick, red patches that sometimes crack and bleed. It’s common for the area around these scales to become red and inflamed. What causes psoriasis? Who is likely to get it? And is there anything you can do about it if you’re suffering from psoriasis?
Normally, skin cells grow inside the body, slowly rise to the surface, and are discarded. In psoriasis, the production of skin cells is much faster, which prevents skin cells from having the time to fall off before other cells reach the surface. This buildup of skin cells is typically on joints, but sometimes also on the hands, feet, neck, scalp or face or, less commonly, the mouth, nails, and the genital area.
What causes psoriasis? Doctors aren’t sure. They know that about 7.4 million Americans have psoriasis, and it’s associated with conditions that include type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, psoriatic arthritis, anxiety, and depression. Studies also suggest that genetics and the immune system both factor into psoriasis. Genetics is a lesser factor as only 2 to 3 percent of people who have the gene actually develop the condition. Psoriasis is, however, an autoimmune condition. In this kind of condition, the body attacks itself; in the cases of psoriasis, white blood cells attack the skin cells.
There are five different types of psoriasis.
- The most common is plaque psoriasis, affecting about 80 percent of psoriasis patients. Plaque psoriasis causes red, inflamed patches, often covered with whitish-silver scales or plaques.
- Guttate psoriasis often occurs in childhood. It causes small pink spots, usually on the torso, arms, and legs.
- Pustular psoriasis is usually localized to smaller parts of the body, like hands or feet. It’s more common in adults than children, and causes white, pus-filled blisters and areas of red, inflamed skin.
- With inverse psoriasis, the skin is red and shiny instead of thick and scaly. Inverse psoriasis patches are found under the armpits or breasts, in the groin, and around the skinfolds of the genitals.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis is rare and life-threatening. It’s a severe type of psoriasis, covering large sections of the body in what can appear to be sunburn, with scales that slough off in large sections. This kind of psoriasis can cause serious illness and fever, and people who have it should immediately see a doctor.
If you are concerned that you may have psoriasis, trust Arlington Dermatology to help you care for your skin. For over 40 years, our Board-Certified dermatologists have been serving patients, making the health and welfare of our patients our top priority. We offer innovative methods of treatment, using state of the art medical equipment, in our conveniently located, patient-friendly facility in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. For more information, contact us through our website or call 847-392-5440.