How Long Does It Last?
Psoriasis can last a long time, even a lifetime. Symptoms come and go. Things that make them worse include
- Dry skin
- Certain medicines
Psoriasis usually occurs in adults. It sometimes runs in families. Treatments include creams, medicines, and light therapy.
Who Gets It?
There are over 7.5 million Americans and an estimated 125 million sufferers worldwide
Most people, about 80%, have plaque psoriasis.
People who get psoriasis usually have one another person in their family who has psoriasis. Genetics play a factor and between 40-60% of psoriasis sufferers have a family history of the condition.
Not everyone who has a family member with psoriasis will get psoriasis.
Psoriasis can begin at any age. Most people get psoriasis between 15 and 30 years of age. By age 40, most people who will get psoriasis, about 75%, have psoriasis. Another common time for psoriasis to begin is between 50 and 60 years of age.
Whites get psoriasis more often than other races.
Infants and young children are more likely to get inverse psoriasis and guttate psoriasis.
Is It Contagious?
No, you cannot catch psoriasis from another person or give it to someone by touching them although more than one member of a family may develop the condition.
You also cannot spread it to other parts of your body.
Signs and Symptoms:
Psoriasis can appear suddenly or slowly. Many times, it goes away and then comes back.The main symptom of the condition is irritated, red, flaky patches of skin. Patches are most often seen on the elbows, knees, and middle of the body, but can appear anywhere including the scalp.
The skin may be:
- Dry and covered with silver, flaky skin (scales)
- Pink-red in colour (like the colour of salmon)
- Raised and thick
Types of Psoriasis
There are five types of psoriasis.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis : where skin redness is very intense and covers a large area of the body.
- Guttate psoriasis : where small, pink or red spots appear on the skin.
- Inverse psoriasis : where skin redness and irritation occurs in the groin, armpits and in between overlapping skin.
- Plaque psoriasis : where thick, red patches of skin are covered by flaky, silver-white scales. This is the most common type of psoriasis with 80% of psoriasis sufferers having this from of psoriasis.
- Pustular psoriasis : where white blisters are surrounded by red, irritated skin.
Many of the complications surrounding psoriasis stem from the appearance of the lesions and scales. The lesions and sores can also be itchy, which can lead to bleeding or a secondary, bacterial skin infection.
Psoriatic Arthritis can lead to severe inflammation, which can limit physical mobility because of the pain.
Psoriasis can cause low self-image, anxiety over social situations, and limitations in certain activities, such as swimming. It has even been linked to depression and suicide.
Psoriasis starts as small red bumps on the skin, which enlarge and become scaly. The skin appears thick but bleeds easily if the scales are picked or rubbed off.
It can also occur in the nails, scalp and body folds.
For most people, the rash is limited to a few patches of skin. However, in severe cases, psoriasis can cover large areas of the body.
Psoriasis can be very red and painful and often causes itching.
The signs of psoriasis vary depending on the type you have.
It is quite common for psoriasis sufferers to have different types of psoriasis throughout the course of their lives or even at the same time.
Plaque Psoriasis is the most common variety of the condition and accounts for approximately 80% of all cases.
Affected areas of the body have patches of red, inflamed skin, often covered with loose, silver-coloured scales.
These patches are known as plaques.
Plaques may be itchy and painful and sometimes crack and bleed. In severe cases, the plaques of affected skin will grow and merge into one another, covering large areas.
Psoriasis plaques are very well demarcated, meaning you can see where the plaque psoriasis starts and regular skin stops. The plaques are raised on the skin, and you can clearly feel where each plaque begins and ends.
The redness is caused by increased blood flow to the area, owing to the speed in which the skin cells are being reproduced.
Plaque Psoriasis can occur more or less anywhere on the body but is found most often on the
- lower back.
It can, more unusually, affect the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
Guttate Psoriasis looks like lots of little red, raindrops distributed over the body, usually involving the arms, legs, torso and back.
This type of psoriasis most commonly affects children, teenagers and young adults.
Guttate Psoriasis can appear very quickly and may often go away on its own, although this may take from a few weeks to a few months.
It is estimated that approximately 50% of people who have a flare of Guttate Psoriasis will never have another attack.
However, some people who experience Guttate Psoriasis will go on to develop another form of psoriasis, for example where the Guttate Psoriasis drops do not clear but merge together forming Plaque Psoriasis.
Inverse Psoriasis is more common in people who are overweight or who, for other reasons, have deep skin folds.
Inverse Psoriasis lesions are usually smooth, shiny, and red with well-defined borders. The lesions can cause cracks to develop in the skin creases, which may bleed.
Inverse Psoriasis does not appear on exposed areas of the body, but selectively, and often exclusively, appears in skin folds
- between the buttocks
- around the genitals
- under the breasts
- in the groin
- in the thighs
- in the armpits
Inverse Psoriasis lesions do not have the scales that occur with regular psoriasis and it is frequently mistaken for a different skin problem, such as a fungal infection.
Inverse Psoriasis can be particularly debilitating, itchy and painful because of its location on the body , and frequently causes irritation from sweating and rubbing and often causes yeast or fungal infections in the Inverse Psoriasis lesions.
Around 50% of people with psoriasis will experience Scalp Psoriasis in their lifetime.
It can appear as a single patch or multiple patches on the scalp.
The back of the head is most commonly affected by Scalp Psoriasis but for some people, the entire scalp is covered.
Scalp Psoriasis may spread beyond the scalp to the forehead, back of the neck, or behind the ears.
Scalp Psoriasis is characterised by thick, silvery-white scales over well-defined red, thickened skin.
Scalp Psoriasis, even though often adequately camouflaged by the hair, is often a source of social embarrassment owing to the flaking of the scales which looks like severe dandruff. And the hair can make it difficult to apply topical lotions onto the lesions as it gets in the way.
In some cases, Scalp Psoriasis may not cause any symptoms at all. However, for many people, Scalp Psoriasis can be extremely itchy.
In very severe cases there may be some temporary mild localised hair loss but scalp psoriasis does not cause permanent balding.
Pustular Psoriasis is an extremely rare type of psoriasis that can present in a variety of forms.
Unlike the most general and common forms of psoriasis, Pustular Psoriasis usually appears on the body with pus-filled blisters rather than plaques.
Pustular Psoriasis can present at any age but is even rarer in young children.
It can appear with or without previous psoriasis conditions or history and can reoccur in periodic episodes. It is characterized by white pustules surrounded by red skin. The pus consists of white blood cells. It is not an infection, nor is it contagious.
One type of Pustular Psoriasis is known as Von Zumbusch. This form of psoriasis requires immediate medical care as it can be life-threatening and sufferers may need to be hospitalised for topical treatment, a systemic treatment which usually involves antibiotics, and rehydration.
Von Zumbusch is associated with chills, fever, headache, nausea, severe itching, dehydration, a rapid pulse rate, anaemia, exhaustion, muscle weakness and weight loss.
It can appear abruptly on the skin and is characterised by widespread areas of fiery red skin, which is often tender and painful.
Within a short period of time, the pustules appear. Over a period of approximately 24-48 hours, the pustules fuse together and form pools of pus that dry up and peel off in sheets, leaving the skin smooth with a red, glazed appearance. New pustules can appear.
This condition is cyclical in nature, with new pustules appearing, fusing together, drying up, peeling, and reappearing. These cycles may last for days or weeks, leaving the sufferer exhausted and seriously uncomfortable.
The most common places these pustules appear are the
- anal area
- genital area
- bends and folds in the skin.
Pustules may appear on the face, but this is unusual.
Pustules can sometimes appear on the tongue, which may make it difficult to swallow.
They can also occur under nails and cause the nails to detach from the nail bed and come off.
Unfortunately for some people, they will experience hair loss within a couple of months.
Another form of Pustular Psoriasis is known as Palmoplantar Pustulosis Psoriasis.
This type of psoriasis causes pustules on the palms of the hand and soles of the feet. It is usually chronic and affects the base of the thumb and the sides of the heels. Pustules initially appear in a pattern on top of red plaques of skin, but then turn brown, peel and become crusted.
As with Von Zumbusch, Palmoplantar Pustulosis Psoriasis also frequently appears in cycles, going away and then recurring.
Acropustulosis is another form of Pustular Psoriasis and characterized by skin lesions on the ends of the fingers and sometimes on the toes. A person may be affected by this condition following an injury to the skin or infection. The lesions are often painful and disabling and cause deformity of the nails.
Nail Psoriasis causes the fingernails or toenails to pit, become discoloured, usually yellow, and come away from the nail bed.
Sometimes, a single nail can be affected.
Nail Psoriasis can sometimes cause difficulty in handling objects because their nails are thickened and detached from the nail bed.
There is a wide range of treatments which can be used to alleviate, comfort and control psoriasis, depending on how severe the condition is, the age of the individual, and how much success they have had with other treatments. The range includes topical treatments, UV Therapy, systemic and biologic medications.
The one golden rule in dealing with psoriasis is to moisturise regularly. Moisturising can help to soften plaques, reduce scale, soothe and reduce itching and redness, and help active treatments to be absorbed more effectively.