Although psoriasis is a skin disease that often has a striking appearance, it is not contagious. It is an inflammatory condition caused by an overactive immune system. The result is that skin cells grow much faster than normal, and instead of their shedding off at a usual rate, they pile up on top of each other and form skin patches, called plaques.
Psoriasis can last a long time, or even a lifetime, and causes itchy or sore patches of thick red skin with silvery scales. The patches usually occur on the elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms and feet, although they can also occur on other parts of the body. Because psoriasis sometimes looks like other skin diseases, a skin sample sometimes has to be looked at through a microscope.
Psoriasis is sometimes made worse by one or more of the following:
- Dry skin
- Some medicines
Although children can get psoriasis, it usually occurs in adults.
Treatment can include certain creams and lotions, medications, and light therapy. A condition associated with psoriasis is psoriatic arthritis, which affects the joints.. For psoriasis, the best doctor to see is a dermatologist, or skin specialist, and for psoriatic arthritis, the best doctor to see is a rheumatologist, or joint specialist.
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