Psoriasis is a skin condition that develops when the immune system mistakenly releases hormones that make skin grow more quickly than it should. As new skin cells grow faster than normal, they accumulate into a thickened area of skin – a patch of psoriasis – that turns red and gets covered in scales.
There are 5 types of psoriasis:
Psoriasis may develop at any age, but often first appears between the ages of 15-30 years. It commonly occurs on the scalp, face, palms, elbows, knees, soles of the feet, and lower back, but it can develop anywhere on your body. About 10% of patients also develop joint inflammation that causes symptoms similar to arthritis.
Psoriasis isn’t contagious, so you can’t get it from contact with another person. It tends to run in families, but inheriting genes that make you susceptible doesn’t mean you’ll develop psoriasis. It turns out that there has to be an interaction between the right genes and specific triggers in the environment that are unique to each person.
When Dr. Marshall treats psoriasis, he aims to accomplish 2 things: Stop skin cells from growing too quickly and remove scaly patches so you regain smooth skin. He will choose from a variety of topical medications that reduce inflammation, slow skin cell growth, remove scales, and relieve itching. In severe cases, or when psoriasis doesn’t respond to topical treatment, the doctor may prescribe oral medications that accomplish the same goals but work from inside the body.
Dr. Marshall may recommend light therapy because controlled exposure to sunlight can help heal psoriasis. He’ll talk about steps you can take at home to repair skin and feel better. For example, taking a daily bath in lukewarm water using oil, Epsom salts, or colloidal oatmeal helps remove scales and relieve inflammation. He will also help you identify triggers and recommend moisturizing products to relieve itching and dryness.