If you experience scaling, itching, inflammation, and redness on your skin, you may be living with psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that affects as many as 7.5 million Americans.
Types of Psoriasis
There are 5 types of psoriasis that can occur.
Around 80% of patients who present with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis. This type presents as red, painful patches of skin that are covered with scales. It is most common on the knees, elbows, and scalp.
Children are more likely to suffer from guttate psoriasis. Rather than large scales, guttate psoriasis brings small, pink patches of skin, typically on the arms and legs.
Eyrthrodermic psoriasis is very rare and much more severe than other types. Plaques cover huge swaths of the body and look very similar to a sunburn. When these plaques slough off, they come off in large sheets of skin instead of fine scales. This can be potentially life-threatening due to a shift of body chemistry and possible infection.
In cases of pustulate psoriasis, patients experience small, pus-filled blisters instead of scales primarily on the hands and feet.
Finally, inverse psoriasis causes skin to develop patches that are shiny, red, and swollen. This typically occurs in warm, moist areas, such as armpits and in the groin.
Causes of Psoriasis
Because psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, it cannot be “caught.” It is caused by your body’s immune system detecting a threat, even when there is none. As a result, it causes T cells to attack skin cells.
When this happens, skins cells begin to reproduce too quickly. These skin cells build up into the plaques you see on your body.
Symptoms of psoriasis vary depending on the type, but typically, you’ll experience:
- Redness and inflammation
- Silvery-white scales
- Soreness around scaly areas
- Itching and burning
- Swollen, painful joints
- Extremely dry skin
There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are measures you can take to help control it. Your dermatologist can help you determine which option works best for you. Typical treatment options include creams, ointments, oral medications.
Avoiding triggers, such as stress and injuries that cause skin damage can also help lessen flare ups.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately.