Psoriasis is a long-term (chronic) skin problem that causes skin cells to grow too quickly, resulting in thick, white, silvery, or red patches of skin. Elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms and feet are the most commonly affected areas of the body. Psoriasis is not contagious, so it cannot be passed from one person to another, and it usually occurs in adults. It sometimes runs in families. Treatments include creams, medications and light therapy.

A problem with your immune system causes psoriasis. In a process called cell turnover, skin cells that grow deep in your skin rise to the surface.
Precipitating factors that make it worse include:

  • Infections
  • Stress
  • Dry skin
  • Certain medicines

Types of Psoriasis
There are five major types of psoriasis, each with unique signs and symptoms:

  • Plaque psoriasis – common type.

Appears as patches of raised, reddish skin covered by silvery – white scale.
Patches form frequently on elbows, knees, lower back and scalp.

  • Guttate psoriasis – small red spots

Usually affect children and young adults.
Often starts after sore throat
Clears up by itself in a week or few months.

  • Pustular psoriasis  – white pustules surrounded by red skin,

tends to confine itself to certain areas of the body, usually the
palms and soles and is referred to as “localized pustular psoriasis.”
When widespread, the condition is  “generalized pustular psoriasis,”- rare and
life threatening.

  • Inverse psoriasis This type occurs when smooth, red lesions form in the skin folds. Lesions can appear in the armpit, under the breasts, and around the groin, buttocks, and genitals.
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis
 – Causes widespread redness with severe itching and pain.  Can be life threatening.

Develops frequently on the scalp and nails. It is possible to be misdiagnose as dandruff and nail infection and is difficult to treat.

Psoriatic arthritis

  • Inflammation of the joints. A lifelong condition that causes deterioration, pain and stiffness in the joints.
  • Between 10% and 30% of patients who develop psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis
  • Medication can help prevent joint deformities and disability if used early.

Without treatment, permanent joint degeneration and destruction can occur.

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What You Can Do

  1. Learn about Psoriasis.  It will help you manage the disease, make informed decisions about how you treat it, and avoid the things that can make it worse.
  2. Eat a healthy diet – exercising, not smoking and drinking very little alcohol will help. People who have psoriasis also have an increased risk for developing heart disease, diabetes and other diseases, so practicing a healthy lifestyle is important.
  3. Be aware of your joints. Consult your physician if you feel your joints are stiff and sore, especially when you wake up – it can be the first sign of psoriatic arthritis.  Between 10% and 30% of people who get psoriasis, get this type of arthritis.
  4. Notice your nails. If your nails begin to pull away from the nail bed or are developing pitting, ridges or yellowish-orange colour, see our dermatologist.
  5. Pay attention to your mood. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal behaviour are more common in people who have psoriasis. Getting help is not a sign of weakness.

What We Can Do For You

There are three types of treatment we can offer. Our dermatologist will discuss which best suits your psoriasis.

  • Topicalcorticosteroids (cortisone) Cortisone is a medication that reduces inflammation.
  • Phototherapy – Ultraviolet (UV) light, slows the rapid growth of skin cells.  A safe and effective treatment option. Alternatively, ultraviolet B (UVB) light might be used. The therapy may be used alone or in combination with topical or systemic treatments.
  • PUVA – Psoralen +UVA used treat widespread psoriasis and psoriasis that has not responded to other therapies. PUVA is effective in approximately 85% of cases.

The Future

Talk with your dermatologist before you stop taking your prescribed medication for psoriasis.  Immediately stopping a medicine for psoriasis can have serious consequences.  It can cause one type of psoriasis to turn into another, more serious, variation. The condition can last a long time, even a lifetime, and symptoms can come and go.

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