Psoriasis - More Than a Skin Condition

October 29th is World Psoriasis Day

Learn more about psoriasis, its impact and treats available.

Psoriasis is a condition affecting more than 125 million people worldwide. While the outward signs appear physical it also touches sufferers socially, emotionally and financially. On World Psoriasis Day, the aim is to raise awareness of this debilitating disease and the effects it has on people’s daily lives. 

Psoriasis may appear to be just a skin condition, but it actually starts underneath the skin. It is a chronic disease of the immune system that can be mild to severe. 

What happens with psoriasis is that with normal skin your body takes about 28 to 30 days to produce new skin cells and shed old ones.  When your body has plaque psoriasis your immune system goes into overdrive and triggers skin inflammation and causes the cells to produce faster in 3 to 4 days instead of the usual 28 to 30. 

The kicker is that your body cannot shed the new skin cells at this fast rate so while the new skin cells are being produced, the old, dead, skin cells pile up on top of each other.  As more and more cells are produced at this rapid rate the old skin cells are pushed to the surface forming the thick red, itchy, flaky, patches known as plaques.  

Psoriasis may appear on the knees, elbows, and core.  It can also appear on the face, hands, feet, nails, genitals and skin folds like under an armpit or breast. 

The most common symptoms associated with psoriasis is a burning itch.  Always tell your doctors about the itch so they can help you manage it.  There are steps to help soothe the symptoms such as keeping your skin moisturized, applying a cream to soften the skin scales and showering in cold water. 

While there is no known exact cause of psoriasis they have found it maybe a genetic link.  One in three people with the condition have a relative with psoriasis.  The environment has also been found to trigger psoriasis.  Triggers include stress, injury to skin, infection such as strep throat or using certain medications. 

The good news is that there are available treatment options and strategies that can help you manage the symptoms and live a normal life with psoriasis. See your board-certified dermatologist to find out the best treatment options for you.

Author Platinum Dermatology — Published September 30, 2019