Health Topic of the Month

August is Psoriasis Awareness Month

What is Psoriasis?

  • Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin
  • Typically appears on the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet, or lower back.
  • Can also affect the fingernails and toenails
  • It can be itchy, burns and stings
  • Most common in adults, but children and teens can get it too
  • Psoriasis is not contagious - It is not something you can catch from others. Psoriasis lesions are not infectious

Causes of Psoriasis

  • Damage or trauma to the skin, such as cuts, scrapes, sunburn, and dryness
  • Lack of sunlight
  • Certain medicines
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco use
  • Stress
  • Infections caused by bacteria or viruses

Diagnosis

  • A doctor or dermatologist usually checks the affected skin and decides if it is psoriasis
  • A skin biopsy (i.e. remove a small piece of skin) may be needed  when the diagnosis is unclear
  • The doctor will judge the degree of psoriasis
    • Mild: symptoms cover less than 3% of your body
    • Moderate: symptoms cover 3% to 10% of your body
    • Severe: symptoms cover more than 10% of your body

Treatment

  • Most cases of psoriasis are mild, and treatment begins with skin care
  • This includes keeping your skin moist with creams and lotions, and use shampoos, ultraviolet light, and medicines your doctor prescribes
  • In some cases, psoriasis can be hard to treat. You may need to try different combinations of treatments. Treatment for psoriasis may continue for a lifetime

Things to Avoid

  • Skin injury
  • Stress
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Overexposure to sunlight
  • Infection such as strep throat can cause psoriasis to appear suddenly, especially in children
  • Certain medicines such as NSAIDs, beta-blockers, and lithium can make psoriasis symptoms worse. Talk with your doctor.