Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes red, itchy, scaly patches of skin to form on the body, usually on the elbows, knees, legs, torso, scalp, soles of the feet, or palms of the hands. It is chronic (long term) disease with no known cure, but symptoms typically will come in cycles where they flare up for a time, subside eventually, and then come back again. Some people experience long periods of time in remission before it reoccurs. Depending on the individual, one may have just a few spots or there can be large areas of skin affected.

This information will focus primarily on plaque psoriasis, which is the most common type. Other types of psoriasis include nail, gultate, inverse, pustular, erythrodermic, and psoriatic arthritis. This condition is believed to be related to a problem with the immune system that causes cells to regenerate at a faster rate than normal. This rapid turnover of cells is thought to be mostly due to genetics, but appears ro be triggered by environmental factors such as cold, dry weather, smoking, high alcohol consumption, stress, infections like strep, sunburn or other skin injuries, a rapid withdrawal of corticosteroids, and certain medications.

The goals of treatment are to stop the cells from growing so quickly and to remove scales from the skin, and a doctor’s choice will depend on the type of psoriasis, the severity of the problem, and the location of the affected area. Some topical treatments that may be used are corticosteroids, retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, salicylic acid, and coal tar. Possible oral medications or injections include steroids, retinoids, methotrexate, cyclosporine, and biologics. Other therapies that could be beneficial is light therapy in the form of either natural sunlight, UVB broadband, UVB narrow band, or the combination of UVA light with the medication Psoralen for severe cases.