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What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin disease that happens when skin cells rise too fast and pile up on the skin’s surface. This process is called cell turnover. In most individuals, this can take about a month. With psoriasis, this happens in just a few days.

Because of the quick cell turnover, most psoriasis causes swelling and patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales that can itch or feel sore. The patches are usually found on the face, elbows, palms, lower back, knees and other parts of the legs, scalp and soles of the feet. They can also show up other places such as fingernails, toenails, genitals, and inside the mouth.

Who gets psoriasis?

Although anyone can get psoriasis, it’s seen more in adults. In many cases, there is a family history of psoriasis. Certain genes have been linked to the disease.

What Causes Psoriasis?

Psoriasis starts in the immune system when a T cell, a type of white blood cell, is called into action by mistake. Normally, T cells help protect the body against infection and disease. With psoriasis, they become so active that they set off other immune responses.

Although psoriasis symptoms can ease, they can also become worse due to:

  • Infections
  • Stress
  • Changes in weather that dry the skin
  • Certain medicines

How do I know if I have psoriasis?

It’s recommended that you see a physician for a diagnosis. Psoriasis can be hard to diagnose because it can look like other skin diseases.

How Is Psoriasis Treated?

How psoriasis is treated varies from person to person. Some of the common treatments include creams and ointments, light therapy, prescription drugs or medicine through a shot. Because they are so individualized, your physician may switch treatments if one doesn't work, if there is a bad reaction, or if the treatment stops working.

Treatment depends on:

  • How serious the disease is
  • The size of the psoriasis patches
  • The type of psoriasis