Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that is the result of an abnormal reaction which causes a rapid buildup of skin cells. This forms scaly patches on the skin’s surface which can burn or itch, and are most often covered with white or silver scales. The most common sites for the patches to appear are in joint areas like the elbows or knees.
According to current studies, more than 8 million Americans have psoriasis, and studies show that between 10 and 30 percent of people with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis. The most common symptoms of psoriasis include:
- Red, raised, inflamed patches of skin
- Whitish-silver scales or plaques on the red patches
- Dry skin that may crack and bleed
- Itching and burning sensations around patches
- Thick, pitted nails
- Painful, swollen joints
Not every person will experience all of these symptoms. Most people with psoriasis go through cycles of symptoms. The condition may cause severe symptoms for a few days or weeks, and then the symptoms may clear up and be almost unnoticeable. Then, in a few weeks or, if made worse by a common psoriasis trigger, the condition may flare up again.
While there is no cure for psoriasis, there is help to manage the condition. Treatments including creams and ointments (topical therapy), light therapy (phototherapy), and oral or injected medications aim to remove scales and stop skin cells from growing so quickly. The treatment(s) you use depend(s) on how severe your psoriasis is, and how responsive it has been to previous treatment.