What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory, non-contagious disorder that most commonly presents on the skin of the scalp, elbows and knees, though it can present on nearly any area of the body. Psoriasis has a genetic predisposition, meaning that it can run in families. The reddish plaques of psoriasis are covered with silvery-white scales and may be very small or cover an entire area of the body. Psoriasis can also affect the nails and joints.

What causes psoriasis?

The exact cause of psoriasis is partly unknown, though research has shown it to be immune-mediated. T-cells alter the skin cell behavior and change the normal skin cell composition; the skin cells turn over much faster than usual and the plaques of psoriasis form. Normal skin grows in about 60 days but psoriatic skin turns over every 3-5 days.

How is psoriasis treated?

Psoriasis never completely resolves, it waxes and wanes, with flares often related to stressors including stress, infection, medications or even the changing seasons. There are many treatment options used to control psoriasis and prevent and treat flares. Your dermatologist can evaluate your skin and determine which individualized treatment plan is appropriate for you. Treatment options for psoriasis include topical medications(corticosteroids, calcipotreine, anthralin salicylic acid) , in-office treatmentsUV therapy, systemic medications (methotrexate, soriatane) and injectible biologic therapy (Enbrel, Humira, Stelara).