Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin.
It typically affects the outside of the elbows, knees or scalps, through it can appear on any location. Some people report that psoriasis is itchy, burns and stings. Psoriasis is associated with other serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and depression. If you develop a rash that doesn’t go away with an over-the-counter medication, you should consider contacting your doctor.
How do I get psoriasis?
While scientists do not know what exactly causes psoriasis, we do know that the immune system and genetics play major roles in its development. Usually, something triggers psoriasis to flare. The skin cells in people with psoriasis grow at an abnormally fast rate, which causes the buildup of psoriasis lesions. Men and women develop psoriasis at equal rates. Psoriasis also occurs in all racial groups, but at varying rates. About 1.3 percent of African-Americans have psoriasis, compared to 2.5 percent of Caucasians. Psoriasis often develops between the ages of 15 and 35, but it can develop at any age. About 10 to 15 percent of those with psoriasis get it before age 10. Some infants have psoriasis, although this is considered rare. Psoriasis is not contagious. It is not something you can “catch” or that others can catch from you. Psoriasis lesions are not infectious.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the disease and appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells or scale. These patches or plaques most often appear on the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back. They are often itchy and painful, and they can crack and bleed.
Guttate [GUH-tate] psoriasis is a form of psoriasis that often starts in childhood or young adulthood. This is the second most common type of psoriasis, after plaque psoriasis. About 10 percent of people who get psoriasis develop guttate psoriasis.
Inverse psoriasis (also known as intertriginous psoriasis) shows up as very red lesions in body folds. It may appear smooth and shiny. Many people have another type of psoriasis elsewhere on the body at the same time.
Pustular [PUHS-choo-lar] psoriasis in characterized by white pustules (blisters of noninfectious pus) surrounded by red skin. The pus consists of white blood cells. It is not an infection, nor is it contagious.
Erythrodermic [eh-REETH-ro-der-mik] psoriasis is a particularly inflammatory form of psoriasis that often affects most of the body surface. It may occur in association with von Zumbusch pustular psoriasis. It is a rare type of psoriasis, occurring once or more during the lifetime of 3 percent of people who have psoriasis. It generally appears on people who have unstable plaque psoriasis. This means the lesions are not clearly defined. Widespread, fiery redness and exfoliation of the skin characterizes this form. Severe itching and pain often accompanies it.