Psoriasis affects almost 5.8 to 7 million people in the U.S. and it occurs in all age groups. Males and females can get psoriasis and it affects all skin colors. Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition, which means that once you have it, it lasts for the rest of your life.
Psoriasis is not just a disease that affects your skin, it affects your emotions as well and can be very uncomfortable even painful. Psoriasis can be mild or it can be severe. You can have just a small patch of it or it can cover your entire body. Psoriasis can be anywhere on your body that has skin covering it including elbows, knees, your scalp, lower back, your face, the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet, finger nails and toe nails, your neck, ears, even your genitals.
You cannot catch psoriasis by touching someone who has it or by any direct or indirect method, not by touching his or her clothing or by touching equipment that someone with psoriasis touched. You cannot get psoriasis from someone who has it period. Psoriasis is not contagious. It is not entirely certain as to how exactly you do get psoriasis. Researchers and scientist do agree though, that even though the cause is not certain, they do know that the immune system and genetics play a role in who can be affected by psoriasis.
The immune system helps to protect your body and scientists believe that individuals who have psoriasis have immune systems that do not work properly. They believe that when a person has psoriasis their immune system produces too many t cells and that can trigger inflammation and excessive amounts of skin cell reproduction. They also believe that psoriasis can be inherited by studying genes of those who have psoriasis.
Conditions can cause flare-ups of psoriasis such as weather changes; infections in the body, certain drugs, dry skin and even stress can trigger a flare-up of psoriasis.
People with psoriasis will have times when the skin condition will improve and other times when it will worsen.
Psoriasis can be diagnosed when you make an appointment to see your doctor or dermatologist. Clinical observation is usually all it takes to make the diagnosis, although in rare cases a skin biopsy may be ordered to rule out other diseases or conditions.
There are several forms of psoriasis and each form has a different characteristic and also some similarities.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is a wide spreading and red, scaly looking area of skin that is often very itchy or painful if scratched. Sometimes sunburn can trigger this kind of psoriasis. Individuals who use oral steroids can sometimes trigger a flare-up of this form of psoriasis.
Guttate psoriasis may be triggered by viral respiratory infections or by bacterial (streptococcal) infections and usually appear on the chest area, arms, legs, and scalp. Lesions characterize it.
Inverse psoriasis covers a large area of skin and is usually dry and smooth with vivid red plaques that can cover folds of skin near the genitals or under the breasts, or in the armpits. This type of psoriasis is triggered by sensitivity to irritation and sweating.
Pustular Psoriasis is usually confused with acne because it looks like pus-filled acne that appears over reddened skin. The pus is not infectious. This form of psoriasis can be triggered by exposure to sunlight, infections, certain medication, perspiration, emotional stress, exposure to chemicals and also pregnancy.