What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common skin disease. Its name comes from the Greek word "psora" which means to itch. However, although not all people find their psoriasis itchy, it generally is. Some also find it painful. It is thought to be an incurable non-contagious disease which persists although it can sometimes disappear and then reoccur. The psoriasis patches are generally red and scaly, and they can occur in a few localized patches or spread to cover most of the body. Unlike eczema, it's more likely to be found on the outer side of the joint. Sometimes, the patches can be mistaken for other conditions such as ringworm, but by doing a skin scrape and analysis, doctors can determine if it is psoriasis or not.
There are five main types of psoriasis. Some are more localized than others. Any body part can be affected such as the skin, scalp, nails and so on. It can even be fatal in rare cases where the widespread inflammation and exfoliation of skin cells prevents temperature regulation and barrier protection.
It is not purely a skin disorder, as it can affect other organs and increase a person's risk of contracting other diseases. For example, up to 30% of people with the condition also develop what is termed "psoriatic arthritis."
What causes psoriasis?
Although the exact cause is not known, some believe it is created by the immune system mistakenly thinking it needs to produce new skin cells in response to a pathogen (which doesn't exist). Some think there is a genetic component.
There may be various triggers for the condition, but these don't seem to be the same for everyone. Some people have developed the condition after they contracted another condition. Others find their condition worsens due to stress, showering in hot water, becoming overheated, being exposed to chemicals such as chlorine in swimming pools, changes of climate and so on.
Disclaimer: The statements made on this page have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. If a condition persists, please contact your physician or healthcare provider. The information provided is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider, and should not be construed as medical advice.