What is psoriasis? — Psoriasis is a skin condition that makes your skin thick and red. It also often causes silver or white scales to form on the skin. Doctors do not know what causes psoriasis.
What are the symptoms of psoriasis? — The symptoms of psoriasis can include:
- Areas of skin that are dry or red, and that are usually covered with silvery or white scales
- Rashes on the scalp, genitals, or in skin folds (like the folds you have at the elbow)
- Nail changes that make the fingernails or toenails look pitted, crumbly, or different in color
Psoriasis has an emotional effect, too. People with the condition often feel embarrassed by their skin, and some get depressed or anxious. If you have these problems, mention them to your doctor or nurse. You might feel better with counseling or another type of mental health treatment.
Is there a test for psoriasis? — Your doctor or nurse should be able to tell if you have psoriasis by looking at your skin and by asking you questions. In rare cases, doctors take a small sample of skin to check if psoriasis is the problem.
What can I do to reduce my symptoms? — Use unscented thick moisturizing creams and ointments to keep the skin from getting too dry.
How is psoriasis treated? — There are treatments that can relieve the symptoms of psoriasis. But the condition cannot be cured.
Treatments for psoriasis come in creams and ointments, pills, or shots. There is also a form of light therapy that can help with psoriasis. All treatments for psoriasis work by slowing the growth of skin, controlling the immune response that causes psoriasis, or both. Most people need to try different treatments or combinations of treatments before they figure out what works best.
What is psoriatic arthritis? — Psoriatic arthritis is a form of joint disease that can affect some people with psoriasis. It causes pain and swelling in the joints.
People with it can take medicines to reduce pain and swelling. Exercise and physical therapy can also help. Plus, some of the same medicines that help with the skin problems caused by psoriasis also help with psoriatic arthritis.