Psoriasis is an incurable skin condition that can affect your daily life. Three percent of people worldwide have a psoriasis diagnosis, including Cyndi Lauper, Art Garfunkel, and Kim Kardashian. We spoke with Skin and Cancer Institute dermatologist Raza Mehdi for his perspective on this widespread condition. According to Dr. Mehdi, a psoriasis diagnosis can make you feel self-conscious about your skin.
“People become less likely to take their shirt off, and other things like that. It impedes their lifestyle and can be emotionally tough,” Dr. Mehdi said.
What is Psoriasis?
If you have psoriasis, your body’s immune system is mistakenly attacking healthy skin cells. Your skin responds by producing cells up to ten times faster than average, which is problematic. There’s no way your body can slough off the skin cells as fast as it’s making them. So, red blotches appear on the skin. Often these red areas are topped by pustules or white flaky scales.
“The immune system fights off infections, but with an autoimmune disorder, the immune system starts fighting against your own body,” said Dr. Mehdi.
The Six Types of Psoriasis
There are different types of psoriasis. Red patches with white flakes are the most common. A less common variation is red patches with yellow blisters on top. Psoriasis also shows up as bright pink or red spots shaped like teardrops. And sometimes, psoriasis also appears on the fingernails and toenails, where it leaves grooves and pits. Psoriasis falls into the six following categories:
- Scalp psoriasis
- Nail psoriasis
- Pustular psoriasis
- Psoriasis in sensitive areas
- Guttate psoriasis
- Plaque Psoriasis
- Plaque Psoriasis Is the Most Common
The most prevalent type of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, which makes up 80 percent of cases. It appears as itchy red patches topped with white scales. Usually, it starts around the elbows and knees. It can eventually spread to the whole body—which is why early detection and treatment are essential.
What causes plaque psoriasis is unknown. We know it’s an autoimmune disorder, but the medical field is still investigating its causes and cures. Triggers are also unknown, but a dry climate could make for harsher breakouts. Psoriasis is less common in humid climates. There are no known lifestyle triggers that could predict flare-ups except perhaps stress. If you have psoriasis, it’s helpful to avoid retinol, drying products, exfoliators, peels, scrubs, and astringents.
Diagnosis Of Psoriasis
Dr. Mehdi said you should check your skin regularly for lesions. If you have any flaky, dry, tender, itchy, or red patches, definitely get checked and treated early, so it doesn’t progress to the rest of the body.
“A lot of people don’t seek help because they don’t know, and there can be a stigma associated with it. It’s not fatal but debilitating,” Mehdi said. Fortunately, there are many more treatments available now compared to 10 years ago.
How to Treat Psoriasis
The good news is that a dermatologist can help you manage and treat this skin condition. For 85 percent of patients with moderate to severe psoriasis, symptoms resolve within three to six months with a combination of treatment. The medical field is still researching and coming out with new drugs for this disorder. Dr. Mehdi suggests you keep your skin clean and moisturized. Also, light therapy could help.
“It can be controlled with a regimen of moisturizers and prescription medications in the form of topical creams, injections, and oral pills,” he said.
Schedule An Appointment Today
Psoriasis, when unmanaged, will continue to spread and worsen and can cause joint inflammation, so it’s essential to take your skin problems seriously. For people who have psoriasis, always get a dermatologist’s opinion. Please make an appointment with Dr. Mehdi or one of our other Skin And Cancer Institute providers today.