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November 12, 2020
By: Lorien Strydom
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the rapid buildup of skin cells. This buildup of cells causes scaling on the skin’s surface.
Inflammation and redness around the scales are fairly common. Typical psoriatic scales are whitish-silver and develop in thick, red patches. Sometimes, these patches will crack and bleed.
Psoriasis is the result of a sped-up skin production process. Typically, skin cells grow deep in the skin and slowly rise to the surface. Eventually, they fall off. The typical life cycle of a skin cell is one month.
In people with psoriasis, this production process may occur in just a few days. Because of this, skin cells don’t have time to fall off. This rapid overproduction leads to the buildup of skin cells.
Scales typically develop on joints, such as elbows, and knees. They may develop anywhere on the body, including the:
Less common types of psoriasis affect the nails, the mouth, and the area around the genitals.
According to one study, around 7.4 million Americans have psoriasis. It’s commonly associated with several other conditions, including:
There are five types of psoriasis:
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) estimates that about 80 percent of people with the condition have plaque psoriasis. It causes red, inflamed patches that cover areas of the skin. These patches are often covered with whitish-silver scales or plaques. These plaques are commonly found on the elbows, knees, and scalp.
Guttate psoriasis is common in childhood. This type of psoriasis causes small pink spots. The most common sites for guttate psoriasis include the torso, arms, and legs. These spots are rarely thick or raised like plaque psoriasis.
Pustular psoriasis is more common in adults. It causes white, pus-filled blisters and broad areas of red, inflamed skin. Pustular psoriasis is typically localized to smaller areas of the body, such as the hands or feet, but it can be widespread.
Inverse psoriasis causes bright areas of red, shiny, inflamed skin. Patches of inverse psoriasis develop under armpits or breasts, in the groin, or around skinfolds in the genitals.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is a severe and very rare type of psoriasis. This form often covers large sections of the body at once. The skin almost appears sunburned. Scales that develop often slough off in large sections or sheets. It’s not uncommon for a person with this type of psoriasis to run a fever or become very ill.
This type can be life-threatening, so individuals should see a doctor immediately.
Psoriasis symptoms differ from person to person and depend on the type of psoriasis. Areas of psoriasis can be as small as a few flakes on the scalp or elbow or cover the majority of the body.
The most common symptoms of plaque psoriasis include:
Not every person will experience all of these symptoms. Some people will experience entirely different symptoms if they have a less common type of psoriasis.
Most people with psoriasis go through “cycles” of symptoms. The condition may cause severe symptoms for a few days or weeks, and then the symptoms may clear up and be almost unnoticeable. Then, in a few weeks or if made worse by a common psoriasis trigger, the condition may flare up again. Sometimes, symptoms of psoriasis disappear completely.
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