Psoriasis is a common inflammatory skin condition characterized by elevated plaques with silvery scales on the surface. Small to large surface areas of the skin can be affected. Anywhere on the skin is fair game for psoriasis to show itself, including the face, scalp, genitals, and even the nails. Furthermore, up to 30% of patients with psoriasis may also develop a painful and inflammatory arthritis known as psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis can develop at any age, but is more commonly seen in adult patients.
Psoriasis is believed to be caused by the relationship between genetics, environment, and immune factors. The genetics of psoriasis prone skin instructs it such that the skin becomes inflamed, with a skin growth signal switch that is stuck on the “On” position. Red, scaly, and often itchy plaques arise on the skin that can shed skin cells at 10 times the normal rate. You cannot “catch” psoriasis from being in close contact with a person who has psoriasis. You can however, pass your psoriasis on to your children as they will inherit the genetic composition of your skin.
Patients who live with psoriasis experience enormous impact on their quality of life. Many patients are afraid to show their skin for fear of being stigmatized or embarrassed. Patients feel they cannot attend public places where their skin is visible, such as swimming pools, yoga studios, or public beaches, as people stare and ask them intrusive questions. Many patients suffering from psoriasis tell me they cannot wear certain colors of clothing as their skin is constantly shedding and becomes visible on the fabric.
My patients routinely share heartbreaking stories of how psoriasis has impacted their psychological well-being. One of my patients told me he was asked to leave his local Gym because he was shedding skin behind him onto the work out machines and the other clients in the gym were afraid of catching his skin condition. Other patients tell me the itch keeps them awake at night and they cannot exercise due to the pain of cracking plaques of psoriasis in the skin folds.
Luckily, there has never been a better time to live with psoriasis. There is more awareness and understanding of this disease than ever before. We have never had more choices of effective, safe, life altering options for therapy.