Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common skin condition characterized by red, irritated skin. It can affect people of any age, but usually begins between the ages of 15 and 35. Symptoms may come and go over time, but there is no known cure for psoriasis.

Cause

The cause of psoriasis isn’t fully understood, but it appears to be a genetic disorder in which the immune system attacks healthy skin cells by mistake, causing dead skill cells to build up quickly on the surface of the skin.

Certain factors can trigger an outbreak of psoriasis or make symptoms worse, including:

• Dry air or skin
• Skin injuries
• Viral infections
• Stress
• Excessive sunlight or sunburn
• Alcohol consumption
• Certain medications

Symptoms

People with psoriasis have red, thick patches of skin, often on the elbows, knees, and trunk. These irritated patches may be raised or scaly. Other symptoms may include burning, itching skin, severe dandruff, nail discoloration, and joint stiffness.

Treatment

Most flare-ups of psoriasis are treated with topical medications, including cortisone creams, products containing salicylic acid or coal tar, or retinoids. Some oral medications or injections may also help relieve symptoms.

Home techniques that can help provide relief include oatmeal baths, minimal sunlight, and stress reduction techniques.