A benign skin disease producing red, scaly patches which often do not itch. It usually appears on the knees, elbows and scalp although it can occur on any part of the body. Psoriasis may be inherited and manifests most frequently in young adults. Psoriasis affects 1-2% of the population. Approximately 8% of psoriasis patients may have pain and swelling in the joints from associated psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis is the result of the skin cells renewing themselves faster than normal due to an overactive immune system which triggers an abnormally rapid rate of skin multiplication. This causes the skin to become red, thickened, and shed skin scales. It can be itchy at times.
Psoriasis may be exacerbated (not caused) by emotional stress, scratching, rubbing, injury, medications, some infections and smoking.
There are a range of treatments available and the choice will depend on the severity, location of the psoriasis, patient preference and any other pre-existing medical conditions. Treatments include topical creams, ultraviolet light treatment (phototherapy), oral medications and the newer biological agents.
Although there is no cure for psoriasis, with appropriate treatment patients may be symptom free for long periods of time.