Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. It develops when the immune system transmits false messages throughout the body that accelerates the frequency of skin cell production. It most often appears as red elevated, scaly/scabby splotches on various places across the body. It can be accompanied by pain and itchiness. There are five main types of psoriasis: plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, postular psoriasis and erythrodermic psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is the most common.
About 7.5 million Americans are affected by some type of psoriasis - in mild, moderate or severe form. Mild is classified as affecting less than 3% of the body surface, moderate is 3-10% and severe covers 10% or more of the body surface.
Psoriasis is thought to be a genetic disorder, at least in part, along with environmental factors such as stress triggering the outbreaks. There is no known cure for psoriasis, but there are various treatments, including topical creams, systemic treatments - prescription drugs taken orally or injected, biologics - prescriptions administered through injection or intravenous if symptoms have not responded to other treatment courses, and alternative "natural" remedies.
Psoriasis has several triggers such as stress, certain medications, injury to skin (sunburns, scratches etc.), and strep throat for guttate psoriasis. It can also have a direct emotional effect. With our culture so geared toward appearance and impression, those with the disease can suffer from emotional stress and interruption to daily life. Some celebrities with psoriasis (Leann Rimes, Jerry Mather, Stacy London) have spoken out about psoriasis and are appearing in campaigns to bring awareness the larger population and positive outlook to those who suffer with psoriasis.
Over the course of this month, we will be exploring various aspects of psoriasis in the hope of raising awareness and understanding about the disease. For more in depth information on psoriasis, please visit the National Psoriasis Foundation.