Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the rapid build-up of skin cells. Typically, skin cells grow deep in the skin and slowly rise to the surface, eventually falling off. The typical life cycle of a skin cell is one month. For patients with psoriasis, this production process may occur in just a few days. Because of this, skin cells don’t have time to fall off. This rapid, overproduction leads to the build-up of skin cells. This build-up of cells causes scaling on the skin’s surface. Inflammation and redness around the scales is a common symptom. Typical psoriatic scales are whitish-silver and develop in thick, red patches. Sometimes, these patches will crack and bleed.
Psoriasis symptoms differ from person to person and depend on the type of psoriasis. There are 5 official types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic. There are also subcategories of psoriasis types, which appear differently depending on where it is located on the body. Scales typically develop on joints, such elbows and knees, although they may develop anywhere on the body including the hands, feet, neck, scalp and face. Less common types of psoriasis affect the nails, the mouth and the area around genitals.
Symptoms of plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the disease, include:
- Red, raised, inflamed patches of skin
- Silver-white scales or plaques on the red patches
- Dry skin that may crack and bleed
- Soreness around patches
- Itching and burning sensations around patches
- Thick, pitted nails
- Painful, swollen joints
Not every person with psoriasis will experience all of these symptoms. Some people will experience entirely different symptoms if they have a less common type of psoriasis.
Most people with psoriasis go through cycles of symptoms. The condition may cause severe symptoms for a few days or weeks, and then the symptoms may clear up and be almost unnoticeable. Then, in a few weeks or if made worse by a common psoriasis trigger, the condition may flare up again. Sometimes, symptoms of psoriasis disappear completely.
Psoriasis triggers include infection (such as strep or a cold), stress, cold weather, smoking, certain medicines and many others. If you have psoriasis symptoms it is important to seek treatment from a qualified dermatologist. Dr. Holy in Phoenix can help you treat the condition based on your individual symptoms and needs. Contact THE CENTER for Advanced Dermatology at 602-867-7546 or website to schedule an appointment or for more information.