Psoriasis: Understanding the Symptoms and Treatment Options

Psoriasis Understanding

Understanding Psoriasis: The Symptoms, Treatment Options, and Health Impact

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that affects more than 125 million people around the world. While it isn’t contagious, the condition can be both physically and emotionally uncomfortable if left untreated. In this article, we’ll explore the risk factors, symptoms, and available treatments for psoriasis.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that causes patchy, red, scaly areas on the skin. The condition is thought to result from a problem in the immune system, triggering the body’s cells to overproduce new skin cells. This results in a buildup of cells on the surface of the skin, causing symptoms such as dry, itchy skin and cracked or bleeding patches.

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Risk Factors for Psoriasis

The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, but certain factors may increase your risk. These include:

  • Genetics. People who have a family history of psoriasis are more likely to develop the condition.
  • Age and gender. While it can affect people of all ages, psoriasis is most likely to appear between the ages of 15 and 35, and is more common in women than men.
  • Obesity. Studies suggest that people who are overweight or obese may be more likely to develop psoriasis, possibly because of the chronic low-grade inflammation that is associated with extra body fat.
  • Stress. Long-term or sudden stress can trigger psoriasis or make existing symptoms worse.
  • Certain medications. Some medications, such as lithium and antimalarial drugs, can increase your risk of developing psoriasis.

Symptoms of Psoriasis

Symptoms of psoriasis vary from person to person but usually include:

  • red, scaly, and raised patches of skin, known as “plaques”
  • itching and burning sensations on the skin
  • dry, cracked skin that may bleed
  • white patches of skin, known as “waxing and waning” patches
  • thick, pitted nails, particularly in severe cases

Treatment Options for Psoriasis

There are a wide range of treatments available for psoriasis, ranging from topical medications to light therapy and oral medications. Treatment options will depend on the severity of symptoms and the individual’s particular case.

  • Topical treatments. Many people with mild to moderate psoriasis find relief from over-the-counter or prescription corticosteroids, moisturizing creams, and salicylic acid.
  • Light therapy. Phototherapy is a form of light therapy that utilizes UVB or UVA light to slow the growth of skin cells. This treatment is often used for more severe cases of psoriasis.
  • Oral medications. Stronger topical medications may be prescribed by a dermatologist, such as methotrexate or biologic drugs. These drugs block proteins that are involved in the inflammation process and can be taken orally or through injections.

The Impact of Psoriasis on Health

In addition to causing physical discomfort, psoriasis can have a significant negative impact on mental health. The condition can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety and can affect a person’s ability to socialize and perform daily tasks. If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety due to psoriasis, it’s important to speak to a doctor about available treatments.


Psoriasis is a common skin condition that can cause a wide range of physical and emotional discomfort. While the exact cause is unknown, there are various treatments available to relieve symptoms. If you’re experiencing symptoms of psoriasis, it’s important to speak to a doctor to explore available treatments and discuss any mental health concerns.

For more information on psoriasis, please visit the National Psoriasis Foundation website.