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Psoriasis is a chronic, non-contagious autoimmune disease that affects the skin and joints. It commonly causes red, scaly patches to appear on the skin, although some patients have no dermatological symptoms. The scaly patches caused by psoriasis, called psoriatic plaques, are areas of inflammation and excessive skin production. Skin rapidly accumulates at these sites and takes on a silvery-white appearance. Plaques frequently occur on the skin of the elbows and knees, but can affect any area including the scalp and genitals.
Complications of Psoriasis
Causes of Psoriasis
The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown but it is known that your immune system plays a part. Your immune system is your body's defense against disease - it produces proteins (antibodies) that attack germs and viruses. For some reason, if you have psoriasis, one of these antibodies called T cells start attacking healthy skin cells by mistake. This triggers other immune responses that cause an increase in the production of new skin cells and also T cells. This results in a cycle of skin cell production becoming faster and faster - skin cells are created and then die in the space of five to six days, rather than the normal 28 days. The dead skin cells then build on the surface of your skin in thick scaly patches.
Signs & Symptoms of Psoriasis
The symptoms of psoriasis vary from person to person.
Most people find that their psoriasis goes through cycles - it causes problems for a few weeks or months, and then the symptoms ease or stop. There are several different types of psoriasis. Typically, people have only one form of psoriasis at a time, although sometimes two different types can occur together. One type may change to another type, or one type may become more severe.
Common types of psoriasis are:
Diagnosis of Psoriasis
Treatments of Psoriasis
Treatments fall into three categories:
Prevention of Psoriasis
When to seek Medical Advice
You should see your doctor or health care practitioner if you have symptoms of psoriasis, such as red raised patches of skin with silvery scales, and do not feel comfortable with how your skin looks or feels. Psoriasis is usually a mild inconvenience to most people. However, for others, it may be disabling or painful. The doctor can prescribe treatments that help. If symptoms are treated when they first appear, the condition will usually not progress.
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