The patches can be itchy or sore, localised or spread all over the body. The scales are caused by a hyperproduction of skin cells. People with the condition are making and replacing skin cells every 3-7 days, instead of the usual 3-4 weeks.
The symptoms of psoriasis are not always severe, but in some cases it can have a significant impact on quality of life. People who have psoriasis will typically go through periods of a few weeks or months when symptoms are worse, followed by periods when symptoms improve or disappear. In some cases, the condition can develop into psoriatic arthritis, in which the joints and connective tissue become swollen and painful.
There are a number of different types of psoriasis: plaque psoriasis (the most common), scalp psoriasis, nail psoriasis, guttate psoriasis (mainly on the chest, arms, legs and scalp), inverse psoriasis (affecting folds and creases of the skin), pustular psoriasis, palmoplantar pustular psoriasis, acropustulosis (pustules appear on the fingers and toes), and erythrodermic psoriasis (rare, full-body).
Psoriasis is an immune system condition, in which it is thought that T-cells attack healthy skin cells by mistake. The causes, however, are not fully understood. It is not contagious, but tends to run in families, and can be triggered by environmental factors. Many flare-ups of symptoms are caused by a particular event or trigger. Common triggers include an injury to the skin, drinking alcohol, smoking, stress, changes in hormone levels, and certain medications.
What to do next
There is no absolute cure, but there are many options that can help you manage your symptoms, including topicals, light therapy and systemic treatments.
We are here to help you to find a treatment plan that works for you. Call us for an appointment.
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No. You cannot catch psoriasis through contact or interaction with someone who has it.
The doctor will usually be able to diagnose psoriasis just by an examination of your skin, scalp and nails, combined with a review of your medical history. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be taken in order to determine the type of psoriasis, or to rule out other conditions.
The causes of psoriasis are not exactly known, but some factors are thought to contribute to the development of psoriasis, including viral and bacterial infections, stress, obesity, and a family history of the disease.