Psoriasis is a fairly common health condition that affects the skin and accelerates (speeds up) the life cycle of cells. Skin cells begin to build up at a much faster rate on the skin surface. The additional skin cells can become scaly and develop red patches and scales, which can be uncomfortable and sometimes quite painful. This chronic disease can come and go with long intervals in between. Psoriasis scales may become whitish-silver in color as they form into red patches and potentially crack and bleed.
The psoriasis patches often develop on the joints, elbows and the knees. They can range from a few, small patches to large portions that cover larger areas on the surface of the body. Some of the most common types of psoriasis include:
- Plaque psoriasis: The most common type of psoriasis, plaque psoriasis causes raised, dry and red skin plaques that are covered with silver-like scales. The psoriasis may be extremely itchy and painful and can develop in any area of the body, including in the genitalia.
- Pustular Psoriasis: This form of psoriasis is less common. It causes blisters that contain pus inside and red, inflamed areas on the skin, typically on the feet or hands and fingertips. The blisters may come and go frequently. When large areas are involved can also cause fever, chills, itching and diarrhea.
- Inverse Psoriasis: This can cause bright red, swollen and shiny patches on the skin, worsening with friction and sweating. It usually involves the armpits, breasts or genital area in the skinfolds. It can be triggered by fungal infections.
- Guttate Psoriasis: Fairly common in children and young adults, it is usually triggered by a bacterial infection such as strep throat. It is characterized by small, water-drop shaped, scaling lesions which usually develop on the torso, legs or arms and scalp and are not often thick or raised.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but the symptoms can be managed. In addition to medications prescribed by your doctor, lifestyle measures such as moisturizing, quitting smoking and managing stress may help significantly.