Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that attacks the skin. The immune system gets triggered by mistake and it attacks the skin cells, causing an abnormally fast turnover of skin cells. Under normal conditions, skin cells develop deep beneath the skin and rise to the surface in about a month. In a psoriasis patient, the skin cells reach the surface within a matter of days. In the worst cases, the new skin cells are produced ten times faster than normal.
The body can’t keep up with such an accelerated pace, and it can’t shed the old skin cells quickly enough. As a result, they pile up. Psoriasis can occur anywhere on the body, but it is most likely to develop on the scalp, elbows, and knees. It sometimes also appears on the torso, palms and soles of the feet. Psoriasis affects mainly adults, and there are several types. The symptoms, therefore, depend on the type of psoriasis a patient has.
About 50 percent of psoriasis patients also develop abnormalities in their nails. This is especially true of people with psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms involving the nails can include color changes, pitting, pain and separation from the nail bed.
What is Plaque Psoriasis?
Plaque psoriasis, or psoriasis vulgaris, is by far the most common type. It affects about 80 percent of psoriasis patients. The patient develops raised, red, dry skin lesions called plaques that are often covered with silvery scales. The plaques can burn and itch, and they can also appear anywhere on the body, including in the mouth or on the genitals. The plaques most often form on the lower back, scalp, elbows and knees.
What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis, as the name suggests, is a type of arthritis seen in psoriasis patients. It typically occurs after the patient has developed the skin symptoms. Psoriatic arthritis can affect joints on one or both sides of the body. The symptoms are similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis: both diseases make joints swollen, warm and painful. The back and fingers are the parts of the body most commonly affected.
Are There Other Types of Psoriasis?
Unfortunately, yes. However, they are relatively uncommon. Guttate psoriasis affects mainly children and young adults. It’s generally triggered by a bacterial infection, like strep throat. The patient develops small, pinkish spots on their skin that usually appear on the trunk, scalp, thighs or upper arms. Guttate psoriasis sometimes goes away on its own.
Inverse psoriasis might be triggered by fungal infections. It causes patches of smooth, red, inflamed skin that generally appear in the armpits, under the breasts, in the groin or around the genitals. Sweat and friction can make the symptoms worse.
Pustular psoriasis causes pustules (pus-filled bumps) surrounded by red skin. It can be localized or confined to a single part of the body, like the hands and feet, or it can be generalized and spread over most of the body. Generalized pustular psoriasis is a potentially serious condition that can be accompanied by symptoms like fever, nausea, chills, fast heart rate and weakness.
Erythrodermic psoriasis is the most serious form, and it is, fortunately, the rarest. It affects most of the body, and the patient’s skin develops a red and peeling rash that is often quite painful.
Learn More Today
If you suffer from psoriasis symptoms, Metro Dermatology is here to help. We have offices conveniently located in Elmhurst, Flushing, Englewood and the Bronx. We can come up with a customized treatment plan that is perfect for you. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more.