Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the skin and can sometimes affect other parts of the body. The immune system’s attacks cause the body to produce skin cells at an abnormally fast rate. Under normal conditions, skin cells develop in the lower layers of the dermis and make their way to the epidermis in about a month. In a patient with this condition, the process is accelerated so that new skin cells reach the epidermis within a week. Since the body can’t get rid of them quickly enough, they accumulate on the patient’s skin.
This condition can range from mild to severe, and doctors make the determination based on the percentage of skin affected. A patient has a mild case when less than three percent of their skin is affected. A moderate case involves three to ten percent of the skin, while a severe case covers over ten percent of the skin.
What are the Symptoms?
As there are five types of psoriasis, the symptoms can vary depending on the type. However, there are some symptoms that all psoriasis patients can develop:
• Patches of abnormally thick and red skin with silvery scales
• Dry skin that can crack and bleed
• Painful itching, stinging and burning sensations
• Nails that are pitted and/or separate from the nailbed
What is Plaque Psoriasis?
This is by far the most common type; it affects over 80 percent of psoriasis patients. The vast majority of patients – around 80 percent – develop mild cases, so they might have just a single patch of affected skin.
In plaque psoriasis, the affected skin takes the form of raised, red and inflamed plaques. They can appear anywhere but are most common on the scalp, hands, feet, nails, elbows, knees, genitals and skin creases. They can crack and bleed, especially if they are very dry and/or on a body part that moves or bends a lot, like an elbow or knee. The plaques can also burn and itch.
Treating Your Psoriasis
The team at Coastal Dermatology & Plastic Surgery wants to help you with your psoriasis. Make an appointment at our office in Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Huntington Beach, Tustin or Mission Viejo to have an initial evaluation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and get started.