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Advances in Psoriasis Treatment

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10 Surprising Facts About Psoriasis

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Nancy LeBrun on September 3, 2020
  • Psoriasis Blue Marker
    1. Psoriasis is a largely treatable and often misunderstood condition.
    Psoriasis affects men and women about equally, and more than 5 million adults deal with the itching and soreness of the skin disorder—about 2% of the U.S. population. As common as psoriasis is, many false perceptions about the condition persist. Here are some other facts about psoriasis you may not know.
  • Group of Women Eating Out
    2. It’s not contagious.
    One of the most common misconceptions about psoriasis is that it can be transmitted from person to person. Psoriasis is not communicable; it’s an autoimmune condition in which your immune system does not work as it should. More than 10% of people have some of the genes that lead to psoriasis, but only about 2 to 3% of the population actually develops it. Experts think you may have to have a certain combination of genes and triggers for psoriasis to actually appear.
  • Woman With Headache Holding Hand on Head
    3. Psoriasis triggers vary from person to person.
    Stress, a common troublemaker when it comes to health, can make a psoriasis outbreak worse. Small injuries like scratches, sunburn or even a new tattoo can result in a particular kind of flare called the Koebner phenomenon, in which a long lesion appears near the wound.  You can stop these sores quickly if you get treatment right away. Certain medications can also set off psoriasis, as can infections that activate your immune system, like strep and bronchitis.
  • Allergic Reaction Itchy Skin
    4. Psoriasis patches form when your skin matures too quickly.
    The thick red patches, called plaques, that form in the most common type of psoriasis are skin cells that build up but don't die and shed like they should. Skin cells usually take about a month to turn over, but with psoriasis the process only takes a few days. The cells reach the surface before they are ready and your body can’t get rid of them, so they form scales. Your healthcare provider can advise you on medicines that can help soothe and remove them.
  • Eczema skin on neck
    5. The itch of psoriasis is different from other itches.
    Some people describe it as a burning feeling, and it has been compared to being bitten by fire ants. Almost all people who have psoriasis will itch, and some will also feel sore. Doctors used to think you couldn’t have itching and soreness at the same time, but experts now realize they can occur simultaneously. There are medicines, including creams and liquids, that can relieve both of these symptoms.
  • Doctor Giving Prescription
    6. There are five types of psoriasis.
    Not all psoriasis looks the same and you may have more than one form at once. They include plaque psoriasis, which is the most common; guttate, which appears as small red dots that may come on suddenly; inverse, which are shiny red areas in body folds like your armpits and groin; pustular, which are small white blisters surrounded by red skin; and erythrodermic, which are very large red areas that may shed in sheets. Though it is rare, you should seek medical attention right away if you think you have an erythrodermic outbreak. 
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  • man-on-weight-scale
    7. Diabetes and obesity may be linked to psoriasis.
    There is growing evidence that psoriasis is associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes. It also represents an increased risk for heart disease. It’s not clear whether psoriasis may lead to these health risks or if it’s the other way around. Even if your skin has been treated and is clear, or if you have a mild case of psoriasis, it’s important to see your healthcare provider so they can monitor you for signs of related health concerns. 
  • senior-couple-at-doctor-visit
    8. Psoriasis can affect more of your body than your skin.
    You may not have psoriasis on your skin and still have psoriatic arthritis, which tends to affect the larger joints and lower body. It can cause pain and scarring; it’s similar to rheumatoid arthritis in some ways.  It’s important to treat psoriatic arthritis early to minimize the chance of permanent joint damage. A specialist called a rheumatologist, rather than a dermatologist, usually treats people with psoriatic arthritis.
  • Psoriasis Hand
    9. Psoriasis is unlikely to appear on your face.
    The most typical places to see psoriasis are on your scalp, knees, hands and feet. Some people may only have one small patch, on an elbow, for instance. Though it can also cover large sections of your body, it rarely affects the face. If it does, it is usually around the eyebrows and forehead. There are special medicines your doctor can give you to treat delicate facial skin.
  • Allergy Ill Skin With Drug
    10. Most psoriasis can be cleared up.
    In the past 15 years, there have been many advances in the treatment of psoriasis. Today there are many options to address the symptoms of the condition, from the itching to the scales and redness, and most people can be clear or almost clear of it. Topical treatments that you put right on your skin, phototherapy (treatment with a UVB light), and biologic drugs that target the immune system can all be highly effective in treating psoriasis.
Psoriasis Facts | 10 Surprising Facts About Psoriasis
  1. About Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  2. Important Facts About Psoriasis. International Federation of Psoriasis Associations.
  3. Psoriasis. American Academy of Dermatology.
  4. Questions and Answers About Psoriasis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases.
  5. Association of psoriasis with the risk of Type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity. JAMA Dermatology.
  6. Why does psoriasis increase the risk for obesity, heart disease? National Psoriasis Foundation.
  7. Psoriatic Arthritis. American College of Rheumatology.
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Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 3
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.