Psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune condition, is not just skin deep. It’s a reality that millions worldwide grapple with daily. Beyond the visible red patches and scales lies a profound impact on one’s physical and emotional well-being. Society’s perception of beauty often excludes those with visible differences, including psoriasis. The stigma attached to the condition can lead to depression and anxiety. But there is hope…advances in medical research have led to innovative treatments that offer relief and improved quality of life for many individuals with psoriasis. Below we will learn more about Psoriasis 101: Symptoms, Triggers and Treatment Approaches. 

Psoriasis develops because the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, rapidly increasing their growth cycle. While the exact cause of this immune dysfunction is not fully understood, it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental and immune system factors. The overproduction of skin cells inflicts the body with thick, red patches known as plaques. The plaques are often covered with silvery scales that produce itchy and painful symptoms as well as the possibility that the plaques will crack and bleed. In addition to the irritating and, for some, agonizing symptoms, individuals with psoriasis are at a higher risk for certain conditions such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. 

There are several types of psoriasis, each with its own distinct characteristics:

  • Plaque psoriasis: Considered the most common form of psoriasis, these raise, red patches are covered with silvery scales and can appear anywhere on the body, but most commonly affect the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back. Emotional stress is a significant trigger for many individuals with psoriasis, including plaque psoriasis. Stress can exacerbate inflammation and worsen symptoms. Physical trauma, such as cuts, scrapes or sunburns, can trigger the development of psoriasis lesions, known as the Koebner phenomenon. Smoking tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption have been linked to an increased risk of developing and intensifying psoriasis.
  • Guttate psoriasis: Typically triggered by bacterial or viral infections, this type of psoriasis appears as small, red teardrop-shaped spots on the skin with silvery scales, often covering the arms, legs and middle of the body. Guttate psoriasis is often triggered by bacterial or viral infections, particularly streptococcal infections such as strep throat. Cold, dry weather conditions may exacerbate symptoms while warm, humid climates may provide relief for some individuals.
  • Inverse psoriasis: This kind of psoriasis appears in areas of the body where the skin rubs against itself such as the armpits, bellybutton, groin area and under the breasts. It may be worsened by friction and sweating producing a red, smooth, shiny rash that may change to look purplish or brown on the skin. Fungal infections, particularly candida yeast infections, can exacerbate symptoms of inverse psoriasis in skin folds.
  • Pustular psoriasis: While rare, pustular psoriasis causes pus-filled blisters to appear on the skin. Individuals can have pustular psoriasis and plaque psoriasis simultaneously, resulting in more serious symptoms including fever, chills, dehydration and rapid heartbeat. Pustular psoriasis may be triggered or exacerbated by bacterial or viral infections as well as fungal infections. It may occur or worsen during pregnancy or following hormonal changes such as menopause.
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis: A rare and severe form of psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis is characterized by widespread inflammation and swelling, redness and peeling of the skin and is considered a medical emergency due to its potential life-threatening complications. This type of psoriasis typically affects most or all of the body’s surface, causing the skin to appear bright red or fiery in color. can be triggered by various factors including sudden withdrawal of systemic psoriasis treatments, severe sunburn, infection, medication reactions or underlying medical conditions such as psoriatic arthritis.

Treatments for psoriasis vary greatly based on the type of psoriasis diagnosed. Only your dermatologist can accurately provide effective measures aimed at alleviating symptoms, reducing inflammation, slowing down skin cell growth and improving overall quality of life for individuals affected by the condition. These include topical treatments (corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, retinoids, coal tar preparations and calcineurin inhibitors), light therapy (UVB phototherapy and PUVA therapy), systemic medications (methotrexate, cyclosporine and acitretin), biologic therapies (TNF, IL-17, 1L-23, AND 1L-12/23 inhibitors), oral medications (apremilast), salicylic acid,and emollients and moisturizers. 
Living with psoriasis means adapting to a new normal, one filled with daily challenges and limitations. Simple activities like wearing certain clothes or participating in outdoor events may require meticulous planning to conceal or manage flare-ups. The sooner a proactive treatment plan is put into place tailored to each individual’s specific needs and severity of the condition, the sooner one can find relief. Contact THE CENTER for Advanced Dermatology at 602-867-7546 or WEBSITE today.