Determining Psoriasis Severity

  • psoriasis-on-arm
    There are different types of psoriasis.
    In the United States alone, about 7.5 million people have psoriasis. The most common type, which affects about 80% of people with the condition, is plaque psoriasis. Like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that isn't well-understood.

  • sunburn blisters on male back
    Genetics may have something to do with the type you have.
    While the cause may be a mystery, researchers suspect that there is a genetic component and they know what triggers flare-ups. Stress, injuries to the skin, such as sunburn, and certain medications, such as lithium, propranolol (a blood pressure drug) and drugs used to fight malaria can all trigger psoriasis activity.

  • smiling-confidant-woman
    Your case is unique.
    Psoriasis isn't the same for every person who has it. Dermatologists generally classify a person's psoriasis as mild, moderate or severe. There are two ways to grade the severity of your psoriasis. One way is to determine how much of the body is affected.

  • Women rubbing hands
    Take measurements.
    If the palm of the hand equals roughly 1% of the body, then a mild case of psoriasis is defined as one to two palm-sized patches, or 1 to 2% of the body covered. Moderate cases are 3% and above, and severe cases are 10% or above.

  • Psoriasis Hand
    Deal with the everyday.
    Another way to determine the severity of psoriasis is to consider how much it interferes with your quality of life. For example, if you have only one palm-sized patch of psoriasis, but it's in a highly visible place and interferes with your work or personal relationships, your case could be classified as moderate to severe.

  • Sad woman with consoling friends
    Consider the emotional toll of psoriasis,
    The emotional impact of psoriasis can also be severe. According to a published brief from the National Psoriasis Foundation, people with psoriasis are twice as likely as someone in the general population to have suicidal thoughts. Psoriasis also puts people at higher risk of depression and anxiety.

  • 8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Dermatology
    Find a dermatologist who can classify your psoriasis.
    For appropriate medical care, it's important to find a dermatologist who is experienced in treating psoriasis and up-to-date on treatment advances. While topical treatments may work for mild cases of psoriasis, they're generally not enough for people whose psoriasis is classified as moderate to severe.

  • dermatologist-examining-womans-elbow
    Is it time to switch treatments?
    If your psoriasis symptoms are not getting better and are interfering with your life, talk with your dermatologist about other treatments, such as phototherapy. A new class of drugs known as biologics has shown great promise in treating moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

  • Medicine
    Consider combination therapy for tougher cases.
    Biologics are often combined with other treatments for the best results. Biologics are expensive and can cause major side effects, such as serious infections and blood conditions. For some people, however, they improve symptoms greatly. Everyone responds to drugs differently, including biologics, so work with your doctor until you find the right treatment plan.

Determining Psoriasis Severity

About The Author

  1. About Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  2. Psoriasis Causes and Known Triggers. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  3. Moderate to Severe Psoriasis: Biologic Drugs. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  4. Psoriasis Severity. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  5. Types of Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation.
  6. Psoriasis and Mental Health Issue Brief. National Psoriasis Foundation. January 2012
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Last Review Date: 2019 Jun 15
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