What is psoriasis? Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder marked by raised areas of thickened skin and lesions made up of dead skin cells. Psoriasis results from an abnormal process in which new skin cells are made faster than old skin cells are cast off. Psoriasis is linked to an abnormal response of the immune system that causes inflammation. Psoriasis is not contagious. Symptoms of psoriasis occur in outbreaks and include itchy, red or pink patches of thickened skin that are covered with whitish scales. Psoriasis most often affects the knees, elbows, lower back, and scalp. There currently is no cure for psoriasis, but the condition can be controlled to minimize outbreaks with an individualized treatment plan that includes lifestyle changes and medications. Complications of psoriasis can be serious. Complications include psoriatic arthritis and a secondary bacterial infection or fungal infection of the psoriasis rash. Psoriasis is also associated with atherosclerosis, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease. Seek prompt medical care if you have symptoms of psoriasis. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the risk for complications of psoriasis and associated conditions.