Psoriasis is a chronic, noncontagious, genetic disease that appears on the skin in red, scaly patches that itch, crack and bleed. This is the most common autoimmune disease in the country, affecting approximately 7.5 million Americans. It is a long-lasting disease of the immune system with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown but there are symptoms to look for:
- Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
- Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- Itching, burning or soreness
- Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
- Swollen and stiff joints
When your body has plaque psoriasis, your immune system is overactive, triggering skin inflammation and causing skin cells to be produced faster than normal. New skin cells are pushed to the skin’s surface in three to four days instead of the usual 28 to 30. So while new skin cells are being produced rapidly, the old skin cells are pushed to the surface, forming the thick, red, itchy, flaky patches known as plaques.
The exact cause of psoriasis isn’t fully understood, but scientists believe psoriasis is the result of several factors, including genetics, environmental factors, and the immune system.
If you have psoriasis, it’s possible that someone in your family may have had it too. One out of three people with psoriasis also have a relative with the disease. Environmental triggers vary from person to person, causing the disease to become active.
If you suspect that you may have psoriasis, see your doctor for an examination. Also, talk to your doctor if your psoriasis:
- Progresses beyond the nuisance stage, causing you discomfort and pain
- Makes performing routine tasks difficult
- Causes you concern about the appearance of your skin
- Leads to joint problems, such as pain, swelling or inability to perform daily tasks
August is Psoriasis Awareness Month. Although the skin condition is not contagious, awareness about it is. People commonly think of psoriasis as just a “skin condition” but there is more to understand about it. Researchers and doctors have not yet discovered a specific cause of psoriasis but the National Psoriasis Foundation has grown to be the world’s largest nonprofit patient advocacy organization serving people with psoriasis. Learn more about the NPF and its investment in cutting-edge research at www.psoriasis.org/research.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.