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Medical Offices of Manhattan

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune condition which affects the skin. This relatively common condition causes skin cells to multiply at a higher rate than normal. Because skin cells are produced more quickly than they are shed, this results in the buildup of dry, scaly, itchy patches on the surface of the skin. There are multiple varieties of psoriasis, with plaque psoriasis being the most common.

What Are The Causes of Psoriasis?

An autoimmune condition, psoriasis occurs when the immune system attacks skin cells, causing skin cell production to increase to an unnecessarily rapid rate. The precise causes of this condition are not fully understood, although genetic and environmental risk factors may come into play

What Are The Signs And Symptoms of Psoriasis?

Plaque psoriasis is often marked by raised patches of dry, red skin, studded with scaly, silvery plaques. You may have itching or burning sensations from affected areas, and there may be cracking and bleeding from dry skin. Less common types of psoriasis include:

  • Guttate psoriasis: Most common in children, this form of psoriasis is marked by small pink spots on the skin, typically without the accompanying thickened skin that characterizes plaque psoriasis.
  • Inverse psoriasis: Inverse psoriasis causes the appearance of shiny, bright red patches of skin, most commonly appearing around the groin, breasts, and armpits.
  • Pustular psoriasis: Pus-filled blisters surrounded by patches of inflamed, red skin indicate the presence of pustular psoriasis. Pustular psoriasis usually affects the extremities (hands and feet) and typically emerges during adulthoods.
  • Erythrodermic psoriasis: A very rare form of severe psoriasis which covers large parts of the body with red scales that may shed in large sheets. This form of psoriasis can cause serious, even life-threatening illness and requires immediate medical attention.

Additional issues include nail psoriasis, in which psoriasis affects the fingernails or toenails, and psoriatic arthritis, in which psoriasis causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints.

What Are The Risk Factors of Psoriasis?

There is a genetic factor which may make you more susceptible to psoriasis, meaning that you are more likely to develop the condition if another member of your family has had it. It also most commonly appears in adults between the ages of 30 and 50. Other factors which may affect the appearance or severity of psoriasis include stress, injury or infection of the skin, strep throat, smoking, alcohol overconsumption, and some medications such as lithium, prednisone, and hydroxychloroquine.

How is Psoriasis Diagnosed?

Psoriasis can usually be diagnosed rather easily through a physical examination of the skin. Make sure that your doctor is aware of any skin changes or other symptoms you have experienced. In some cases, a biopsy may be performed if physical symptoms are inconclusive or if your doctor needs to confirm their diagnosis.

What Are Possible Treatments For Psoriasis?

Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as exercise regimens, modifications to diet, quitting smoking, or reducing alcohol intake. Creams and ointments such as topical corticosteroids or immuno-modulators may be applied to the affected areas to reduce symptoms. Moderate to severe psoriasis may be treated through systemic medications such as immuno-modulators or biologics. Phototherapy, a treatment that uses ultraviolet light, may also help to reduce the growth of cells and alleviate symptoms.

Are There Preventative Steps or Measures To Avoid Psoriasis?

There are a number of steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing psoriasis. These include quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, managing stress, avoiding tattoos (getting tattooed causes injury to the skin), avoiding dry, cold climates, and eating a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet.

What Are The Risks If Psoriasis Is Left Untreated?

If left untreated, psoriasis can cause the development of psoriatic arthritis, causing joint pain, stiffness, and loss of function. Psoriasis has also been linked to some cancers, and skin which cracks or sheds in large patches also increases your risk of infection and other complications.

Are There Other Related Conditions To Psoriasis?

Some of the most common comorbidities with psoriasis include psoriatic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and metabolic syndrome.

Meet Medical Offices of Manhattan

Medical Offices of Manhattan is one of NYC's leading multi-specialty medical groups. Located in Midtown East, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Medical Offices of Manhattan specializes in Primary Care, Cardiology, Dermatology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, and Podiatry. Medical Offices of Manhattan uses the most innovative methods... Learn More »