What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin disorder that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin. It is the most prevalent autoimmune disease in the United States. According to estimates, as many as 7.5 million Americans, or 2.2 percent of the population, have this condition.
Your body is constantly making new skin cells and shedding old ones from the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin. With psoriasis, your immune system triggers skin cells to grow much faster than normal. The body cannot shed these excess skin cells fast enough, causing skin cells to pile up on the surface of the skin and form psoriasis lesions.
While scientists don’t know what causes this autoimmune reaction, genetics seem to play a role. If one or both of your parents have this condition, you are at increased risk for developing it.
Psoriasis may look contagious, but it's not. It can occur at any age but often appears between the ages of 15 and 35. It is estimated that up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis will eventually develop psoriatic arthritis, a condition that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in and around the joints.
There are several types of psoriasis, although plaque psoriasis is by far the most common. Symptoms and appearance of the lesions will vary depending on the type you have. It is not uncommon to have more than one type.
For many people, especially those with severe psoriasis, the condition can greatly impact quality of life. While there is no cure for it, there are many effective treatments. At Vanguard Skin Specialists, our dermatologists will determine the type and extent of your psoriasis and find a treatment plan that works for you – one that will help you manage your condition and live more comfortably.
Dermatologists in Cañon City, Colorado Springs, Pueblo & Woodland Park
If you suspect you have psoriasis, call Vanguard Skin Specialists today at (719) 355-1585 for an appointment with one of our dermatologists in Cañon City, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, or Woodland Park, or request one online. Learn more about psoriasis in the FAQs below.
A chronic skin disease that occurs when your immune system sends faulty signals that tell skin cells to grow too quickly. When this happens, the body can’t shed the skin cells fast enough and excess skin cells accumulate, causing psoriasis lesions to appear.
- Plaque psoriasis causes raised, reddened skin with white scales. It can occur anywhere but often forms on elbows, knees, lower back, or scalp. It occurs in nearly 80 percent of people with this condition.
- Guttate psoriasis usually occurs in children and young adults. Characterized by small red spots on the skin, it frequently follows strep throat and heals on its own.
- Pustular psoriasis appears as white, pus-filled blisters surrounded by red skin, most often on the hands or feet.
- Inverse psoriasis causes painful, smooth red patches in folds of skin, such as the armpits, behind the knee, or in the groin area.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis is a rare type that causes severe redness, itching, pain, and skin shedding over large areas of the body, like a burn. This type should be treated immediately, as it can be life threatening.
Caused by an overactive immune system in people who are genetically predisposed to developing the condition. Scientists believe that certain things may trigger the immune system to overreact, such as an infection, skin injury, stress, or certain medications.
There are a number of treatment options including:
- Over-the-counter and prescription topical medications
- Oral or injectable systemic medications (impact the entire immune system)
- Phototherapy (light therapy)
- Biologic injections or IV infusions (target specific parts of the immune system)
The effectiveness of treatments can vary depending on the type of psoriasis. Your dermatologist will help you find a treatment that works for you and fits your lifestyle.