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What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that generally appears as patches of raised red skin covered by a flaky white buildup. In some cases, psoriasis is very mild and people don't know they have it. In other cases, psoriasis is very severe and covers large areas of the body.

Psoriasis is not contagious. You can not "catch" it from another person and a person cannot "catch" it from you.

Psoriasis means "itch" in Greek.

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What causes Psoriasis?

The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown. However, researchers believe psoriasis is related to faulty signals sent by the body's immune system. The faulty signals accelerate the growth cycle in skin cells, which pile up on the surface when the body can't shed them fast enough.

Types of Psoriasis

There are different forms of psoriasis: inverse psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and plaque psoriasis. Each form of psoriasis differs in severity, location, duration and the shape and pattern of the scales.

  • Inverse psoriasis occurs in the armpit, under the breast and in the skin folds around the groin, buttocks, and genitals.
  • Guttate psoriasis often affects children and young adults. It usually occurs after a sore throat.
  • Plaque psoriasis is the most common form. About 80 percent of people with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis can appear anywhere on the skin surface. The knees, elbows, scalp, trunk and nails are the most common locations.

Psoriasis Statistics

In the United States two out of every hundred people have psoriasis (four to five million people). Approximately 150,000 new cases occur each year.

Can Psoriasis be Treated?

Psoriasis can be treated. Treatment varies between patients. It is based on the patient's health, age, lifestyle, and the severity of the psoriasis. Some types of treatment are: topical skin medication, limited sunlight exposure, steroids, exposure to ultraviolet light and oral medication.

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