Description, Causes, and Risk Factors

Psoriasis is a common skin problem. It causes a thick, rough, dry buildup of your outer layer of skin. It is genetically inherited, but family history is not the only culprit. Stress, anxiety, physical injury, stomach upset and climate changes are some of the common triggers that cause psoriasis flare-ups in a genetically predisposed person.

Normally skin renews itself in about 24 days which is the time take by the skin cells to work their way from the inner most layer to the surface of the skin. During an episode of psoriasis, the cells reach the surface in just 3-4 days causing a huge cluster of thick skin flakes to accumulate on the surface of the skin, giving rise to lesions. Although, this disease is more common in winter, summer flares-up are commonly found in people who are allergic to sun and UV radiation.

Psoriasis results from a higher-than-normal rate of skin cell production causing dead skin cells to accumulate and form thick dry scales. Excessive dryness in winter tends to further aggravate this process bringing about a flare-up. Itching and scratching of skin are also contributing factors.

Types May Include: Exfoliative psoriasis, flexural psoriasis, generalized pustular psoriasis of Zambusch, palmar psoriasis, psoriasis annularis, psoriasis arthropica, psoriasis circinata, psoriasis diffusa, psoriasis geographica, psoriasis guttata, psoriasis gyrata, psoriasis nummularis, psoriasis punctata, pustular psoriasis, plaque psoriasis, nail psoriasis, scalp psoriasis, palmoplantar psoriasis, sebopsoriasis.

Preventive Measure may Include:

  • Avoid stress.
  • Avoid skin injury and skin infections.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol.
  • Exercise daily according to your health care provider's recommendation and maintain a normal weight.
  • Follow your provider's recommendations for keeping your skin soft. Ask your provider to suggest soaps, lotions, and cosmetics.


  • The symptoms are rough, dry, thick areas of skin. Often the skin under the plaques is slightly red. The skin usually does not itch.
  • Most psoriasis occurs in patches. Sometimes, however, it appears as many small, droplike, scaly areas. This is called guttate or raindrop psoriasis and it often occurs on the back.
  • Psoriasis can affect your fingernails and toenails, causing them to have pits or dents in them. In severe cases the nails become thick and misshapen.
  • A few people also have arthritis or joint pain with psoriasis.


Psoriatic lesions have a typical appearance which cannot be missed. However, visual diagnosis may need confirmation. Psoriatic lesions are typically found on joints like the finger knuckles, elbows, knees, and ankles. It is also common on the scalp, palms, and soles. If physician may find it more difficult to diagnose a patient who also has another condition, such as eczema, in these rare instances, a skin biopsy is usually easily able to make a specific diagnosis.


Your treatment depends on your symptoms. The goal is to slow the production of skin cells. This helps prevent the formation and buildup of plaque.

Your health care provider will recommend or prescribe a cream or ointment to rub on your skin. A variety of medicines are available, such as steroid cream or ointment, salicylic acid cream or ointment, tar preparation (commonly ointment or shampoo), anthralin cream or ointment vitamin-D-like cream or ointment (calcipotriene).

A group of medicines called retinoids have been used to treat severe psoriasis. One of these, tazarotene, is a very potent gel used on the skin. This medicine may cause birth defects if it is used just before or during pregnancy. Another drug in this category is an oral medicine called acitretin, which is also very likely to cause birth defects.

More severe psoriasis may require medicines to suppress your body's immune response. Examples of such medicines are methotrexate and cyclosporin.

Your health care provider may want you to use more than one type of medicine. If you are using a combination of psoriasis medicines, it is helpful to make a chart of when you use each medicine and review it with your provider.

Your health care provider may prescribe ultraviolet (UV) light therapy in addition to your medicines.

NOTE: The above information is an educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.



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