Psoriasis is a chronic disorder causing red, scaly patches on the skin. It usually occurs on the limbs, trunk, and scalp but can show up on other parts of the body as well. It is not contagious but it can flare up causing the symptoms to get worse. The rash associated with psoriasis goes through cycles of improvement before it gets worse. Psoriasis is usually the result of a problem with the immune system. It is most likely to occur in members of the same family. At times, psoriasis can be disfiguring, uncomfortable, and even painful.
Symptoms of psoriasis appear as red, thickened areas of the skin with silvery scales. It most often appears on the scalp, elbows, knees, legs, arms, genitals, nails, palms, and lower back. The skin usually replaces itself after about a month. When psoriasis is present, the process speeds up and the skin is replaced in 3-4 days causing the skin cells to multiply quickly and accumulate on the surface in silvery scales. Psoriasis comes in many forms. Each differs in severity, duration, location, shape, and pattern of the scales. The most common form, called plaque psoriasis, begins with little red bumps. Gradually these become larger, and scales form.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for psoriasis but there are many different psoriasis treatments available that can clear the symptoms and bring relief. Your doctor may prescribe medications applied directly to the skin. These contain cortisone compounds, synthetic vitamin D analogs, retinoids, tar, or anthralin used to ease the discomfort caused by the skin patches. Other types of treatment include coal tar, Goeckerman treatment, light therapy, ultraviolet light B (UVB), PUVA, methotrexate, cyclosporine, and biologic agents. Controlling triggers that bring on bouts of psoriasis, such as stress, and taking care of your skin will help keep symptoms in control. The goal is to reduce inflammation and to control shedding of the skin. Moisturizing creams and lotions loosen scales and help control itching.