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The name psoriasi s is from the Greek language, meaning roughly "itching condition" (psora "itch" + -sis "action, condition"). 

Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that affects the skin. It occurs when the immune system mistakes the skin cells for a pathogen, and sends out faulty signals which speed up their growth cycle. 

Psoriasis is not contagious, however, it has been linked to an increased risk of stroke and treating high blood lipid levels may lead to improvement. Its scope can vary considerably; from mild outbreaks, where the person may not even be aware they have psoriasis, to severe cases, which can be socially disabling and, in rare instances, life-threatening.

In principle, people of all ages can get psoriasis, but the early-onset form of the disease is mostly seen in 16 to 22-year-olds and the late-onset form strikes those between the ages of 50 and 60.

The disorder is a chronic recurring condition that varies in severity from minor localized patches to complete body coverage.

Fingernails and toenails are frequently affected (psoriatic nail dystrophy) and can be seen as an isolated sign. Psoriasis can also cause inflammation of the joints, which is known as psoriatic arthritis. Between 10—30% of all people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis.

There are five types of psoriasis:

  • plaque
  • guttate
  • flexural
  • pustular
  • erythrodermic

The most common form, plaque psoriasis, is commonly seen as red and white hues of scaly patches appearing on the top first layer of the epidermis (skin).

In plaque psoriasis, skin rapidly accumulates at these sites, which gives it a silvery-white appearance. Plaques frequently occur on: -

  • Scalp
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Palms of the hands
  • Soles of the feet
  • Genitals

In contrast to eczema, psoriasis is more likely to be found on the outer side of the affected joint.

Flexural psoriasis occurs in skin folds. Red, itchy plaques appear in: -

  • The armpits
  • Under the breasts
  • On the stomach
  • In the groin or on the buttocks.
  • The plaques are often infected by the yeast-like fungus candida albicans.

Guttate psoriasis is a special variant which primarily occurs acutely in children and young people due to a streptococcal infection of the throat. Drop-like, scaly patches appear on the entire body. In many cases, the condition disappears by itself after a few weeks or months.

Psoriasis of the scalp can be difficult to distinguish from a severe case of cradle cap, and sometimes the two occur simultaneously. An outbreak of psoriasis often leads to lesions on the face.


Although psoriasis is a chronic long term condition with no cure, it can be controlled and go into remission. Treatments are determined by the type and severity of the psoriasis and the area of skin affected. Treatments fall into three different categories:

  • Topical: creams and ointments such as Psorin and Dithranol that are applied to the skin. Anti-fungal agents can be helpful while coal tar is mostly used for acute scalp psoriasis.
  • Phototherapy: the skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UVB) light which helps trigger chemical reactions that affect the function of the cells by reducing their ability to reproduce so quickly. UVB is used to treat guttate psoriasis or plaque psoriasis, which fails to respond to simple topical treatments.
  • Oral and injected medication: medicine that reduces the production of skin cells, including biological treatments that target specific parts of the immune system. 

Often, different types of treatment are used in combination with each other. Individual treatment is unique as in all remedies but particularly so with any skin condition.

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