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29.11D: Psoriasis

  • Page ID
    8371
  • Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that affects the skin, caused by faulty immune signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells.

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

    Describe psoriasis

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

    • The plaque form is most common form of psoriasis and usually presents as red and white hues of scaly patches on the epidermis.
    • Psoriasis is a chronic recurring condition that varies in severity from minor, localized patches to complete body coverage.
    • The cause of psoriasis is not fully understood, but it is believed to have a genetic component.
    • There is currently no cure, but various treatments can help to control the symptoms. Typically, topical agents are used for mild disease, phototherapy for moderate disease, and systemic immunosupressent agents for severe disease.

    Key Terms

    • psoriasis: A noncontagious disease whose main symptom is gray or silvery flaky patches on the skin which are red and inflamed underneath when scratched.
    • plaque: A plaque is a raised area of inflamed skin covered with silvery white scaly skin and connective tissue.
    • autoimmune disease: A disease where one’s immune system attacks one’s own tissues.

    Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that affects the skin. It occurs when the immune system mistakes the skin cells as a pathogen, and sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis is not contagious. The most common form, plaque psoriasis, is commonly seen as red and white colored scaly patches appearing on the top first layer of the skin. Plaques frequently occur on the skin of the elbows and knees, but can affect any area, including the back, scalp, palms of hands and soles of feet, and genitals. In contrast to eczema, psoriasis is more likely to be found on the skin of outer side of the joint rather than in the crease.

    Symptoms and Complications

    Depending on the severity and location of outbreaks, individuals may experience significant physical discomfort and some disability. Itching and pain can interfere with basic functions such as self-care, walking, and sleep. Plaques on hands and feet can prevent individuals from working at certain occupations, playing some sports, and caring for family members or a home. Quality of life is an issue for psoriasis patients, as they may feel self-conscious about the appearance of their skin and have a poor self-image that stems from fear of public rejection and psychosexual concerns. Psychological distress can lead to significant depression and social isolation.

    Treatment

    Psoriasis is typically a lifelong condition. There is currently no cure, but various treatments can help to control the symptoms. Typically, topical agents are used for mild disease, phototherapy for moderate disease, and systemic immunosuppressant agents for severe disease.

    image

    Psoriasis: A person whose back and arms are affected by psoriasis.

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