Psoriasis is a chronic condition, likely related to immune dysfunction within the skin, that causes the skin to make new cells in days rather than weeks. As these cells build up, thickened, scaly plaques develop on the skin’s surface. Plaques vary in size and while they may be found anywhere on the body, commonly affected areas include the scalp, knees, elbows and torso. In some cases, pustules can develop, particularly on the hands and feet.
Psoriasis may also affect the nails and joints (psoriatic arthritis). A milder form of psoriasis called guttate psoriasis primarily develops in childhood or young adulthood and may abate or resolve over time. However, most cases of psoriasis are life-long and characterised by periods of intermittent flare-ups and remissions.
Both genetics and environmental factors including infection, stress, smoking and certain medications play a role in the development of psoriasis. Psoriasis can have a profound impact on quality of life and may be associated with low self-esteem and depression. While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are many ways to help manage the symptoms.
Treatment for psoriasis may include:
- Lifestyle and dietary modifications
- Topical prescriptions
- UVB light treatment
- Oral medication
- Injectable medication