On the skin, psoriasis appears as red, thick dry patches of skin, most often involve the elbows and knees, ears and scalp. It is important to remember that psoriasis is not contagious. Psoriasis spots are not infectious– it is not something that you can “catch” or that others can “catch” from you. Some patients have found that certain conditions may cause a flare up of their psoriasis– including infections, stress, weather, medications, and skin trauma.
Psoriasis can be very uncomfortable, especially when the skin becomes itchy, cracks, and occasionally bleeds. In some patients, psoriasis can be severe, making every day activities difficult. While patients with psoriasis can have good and bad days, psoriasis in general is a chronic condition that requires some treatment periodically for maintanence.
Psoriasis may clear for years and stay in remission. Some patients may need occasional treatments, while
others may require more aggressive long-term management. Recent studies have shown that moderate and severe psoraisis are associated with a higher risk for heart disease, obesity, alcoholism, and depression.
Despite the fact that psoriasis is a common disease, science has yet to figure out exactly what causes psoriasis. Dermatologists believe a combination of genetics, environmental factors and a patient’s immune system may all play a role. We know that psoriasis often runs in families. Most researchers agree that a disregulation in the immune system causes the skin cells to grow more rapidly than normal. A normal skin cell matures in 28-30 days, but a psoriatic skin cell takes only 3-4 days to mature. These skin cells then pile up and form the thick scaly lesions of psoriasis. While there is still no cure for psoriasis, there are extremely effective treatments that limit disability and greatly improve patients’ quality of life.
We encourage patients to join the National Psoriasis Foundation to become their own disease advocates. Dr. Mann offers a wide array of therapeutic options including topical agents, oral systemic treatments, injection therapies, infusion therapies, and phototherapy.
For more information on psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, please visit the National Psoriasis Foundation, http://www.psoriasis.org.