Psoriasis is an ugly skin disorder that affects approximately 2-3% of the people in the United States. People who have it usually end up with patches of skin that are raised and red along with silvery scales. The skin looks like that because the cells are growing at a rate that is abnormally high. When someone has psoriasis, their immune system is basically attacking itself. Its signals are tangled up in that it thinks that it needs to create more and more cells to defend the affected area. The cells build up on each other creating lesion like areas on the skin. Normally the body sheds its skin cells as they die off. With Psoriasis they just keep building up on each other.
Psoriasis is typically found on the legs, arms, elbows, and scalp. It is not uncommon to also have it on the trunk, nails, or lower back. While those are the most common areas, it literally can appear on any part of the skin. As you can imagine, this can become quite difficult for people to accept when psoriasis infiltrates an area of the skin like the face or hands that is so publically viewable.
Psoriasis has a very unappealing look to it. Because of this most people are highly turned off by the sight of it, and thus, very fearful that they might catch it. It’s important to understand though that psoriasis is not an infection or bacteria in any way. It is not contagious, and it can’t be transmitted to someone else. Touching the affected skin of someone with psoriasis will not make you catch it. However, it should be noted that the red scaly skin can sometimes become infected when the skin splits. That can be painful and require certain drugs to help overcome, but it’s definitely not contagious.
Psoriasis can be inherited. It’s fairly common to see more than one person in the same family have psoriasis. Scientists believe that some people carry genes which make them likely to get psoriasis. Of course that doesn’t mean they will automatically get it, but it happens to a fair number of them. About one out of three people with psoriasis have one or more family member with the disease.
Nobody really knows what exact factors trigger psoriasis to suddenly wake up in those who have the genes. There are, however, a few things that are common: Injury to the skin has definitely triggered psoriasis in some people (Ex: skin infection, skin inflammation, or even excessive scratching). Numerous medications have aggravated psoriasis as well.
Symptoms and Types of Psoriasis
There are basically five main types of psoriasis:
Plaque Psoriasis – Most Common. 80% of People Have This Type.
Guttate Psoriasis – Small Pink Drops. Often Triggered by Bacterial Infection
Pustular Psoriasis – Very Uncommon. Raised Bumps on Skin Filled With Pus
Inverse Psoriasis – Occurs in Skin Folds. Highly Painful and Itchy. Very Rare
Erythrodermic Psoriasis – Rare But Quite Serious. Severe Redness. Hospital Care Needed.
About 4 out of 5 people with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis. It is by far the most common type. The lesions created on the skin by psoriasis will vary in appearance based on the exact type. Psoriasis will often also affect the nails. About 50% of people who develop psoriasis see it affect their fingernails or toenails. Sometimes the nails start to pull away from the nail bed or they develop ridges and pitting. This is often a sign of psoriatic arthritis. Most people with psoriatic arthritis have harsh inflammation in their joints. They can also develop other arthritis symptoms. Psoriatic arthritis can progress quite a lot causing the victim to become debilitated. If you have psoriasis and see changes in your nails, it is best to visit a dermatologist as soon as possible. The sooner the treatment begins the better it will work to prevent joint deterioration.