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Psoriasis is a common skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. It causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes painful. It is an autoimmune disease.
The cause of psoriasis isn't fully understood, but it's thought to be related to an immune system problem with T cells and other white blood cells, called neutrophils, in your body.T cells normally travel through the body to defend against foreign substances, such as viruses or bacteria.But if you have psoriasis, the T cells attack healthy skin cells by mistake, as if to heal a wound or to fight an infection.Overactive T cells also trigger increased production of healthy skin cells, more T cells and other white blood cells, especially neutrophils.
These travel into the skin causing redness and sometimes pus in pustular lesions. Dilated blood vessels in psoriasis-affected areas create warmth and redness in the skin lesions.
Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions that cover large areas.
There are several types of psoriasis:
Plaque psoriasis. The most common form, plaque psoriasis causes dry, raised, red skin lesions (plaques) covered with silvery scales. The plaques might be itchy or painful and there may be few or many. They can occur anywhere on your body, including your genitals and the soft tissue inside your mouth.
Nail psoriasis. Psoriasis can affect fingernails and toenails, causing pitting, abnormal nail growth and discoloration. Psoriatic nails might loosen and separate from the nail bed (onycholysis). Severe cases may cause the nail to crumble.
Guttate psoriasis. This type primarily affects young adults and children. It's usually triggered by a bacterial infection such as strep throat. It's marked by small, water-drop-shaped, scaling lesions on your trunk, arms, legs and scalp.The lesions are covered by a fine scale and aren't as thick as typical plaques are. You may have a single outbreak that goes away on its own, or you may have repeated episodes.
Inverse psoriasis. This mainly affects the skin in the armpits, in the groin, under the breasts and around the genitals. Inverse psoriasis causes smooth patches of red, inflamed skin that worsen with friction and sweating. Fungal infections may trigger this type of psoriasis.
Pustular psoriasis. This uncommon form of psoriasis can occur in widespread patches (generalized pustular psoriasis) or in smaller areas on your hands, feet or fingertips.It generally develops quickly, with pus-filled blisters appearing just hours after your skin becomes red and tender. The blisters may come and go frequently. Generalized pustular psoriasis can also cause fever, chills, severe itching and diarrhea.
Erythrodermic psoriasis. The least common type of psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis can cover your entire body with a red, peeling rash that can itch or burn intensely.
Psoriatic arthritis. In addition to inflamed, scaly skin, psoriatic arthritis causes swollen, painful joints that are typical of arthritis. Sometimes the joint symptoms are the first or only manifestation of psoriasis or at times only nail changes are seen. Symptoms range from mild to severe, and psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint. Although the disease usually isn't as crippling as other forms of arthritis, it can cause stiffness and progressive joint damage that in the most serious cases may lead to permanent deformity.
Light therapy (phototherapy)
Oral or injected medications