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Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterized by clearly defined, red and scaly plaques. Psoriasis affects 2-4% of all males and females. It can start at any age including childhood, with symptoms peaking between 15-25 and 50-60 years. Psoriasis tends to last a lifetime in most individuals, with flareups varying in the extent and severity.

Image of person with psoriasis plaque on elbow

1. Psoriasis occurrence has some common patterns

Psoriasis is a immune system disorder. Genetics play a major role in occurrence and responsiveness to treatment. While psoriasis can affect anyone, it is particularly common in Caucasians. About one-third of patients with psoriasis have family members with psoriasis.

2. Psoriasis can be a very visible skin condition potentially causing psychological harm

Psoriasis usually presents in visible areas such as scalp, elbows and sometimes on the knees. But it can manifest anywhere on the body. Without treatment, these plaques are quite persistent. The plaques are commonly associated with itching and appear shiny with a moist. While the itching sensation is not generally severe, it may become acute in some patients. This could lead to scratching and "lichenification", including thick leathery skin leading to painful skin cracks or fissures and even skin bacterial infections. When psoriatic plaques clear up, they may leave brown or pale marks that can take several months to fade.

Man with psoriasis plaques on the scalp
Psoriasis on the scalp
Person with psoriatic plaques on knuckles
Psoriasis on the knuckles

3. There are multiple types of psoriasis

Psoriasis can be classified into several types depending on below factors. Each has its unique treatment protocol. Your dermatologist is generally looking for the following to determine its nature:

  • How early did it first begin?

  • Is it acute or a chronic, recurring condition?

  • Is it localized to a portion of the body or is it spread throughout the body?

  • How large are the plaques?

  • Are they thin or thick?

  • Are nails involved?

Psoriasis can often be misdiagnosed as eczema leading to further complications. It is important to see a board-certified dermatologist to get diagnosed correctly.

4. Certain conditions or behaviors may make psoriasis symptoms worse

People with psoriasis generally experience more pronounced symptoms when they have infections such as streptococcal tonsillitis, injuries such as cuts or sunburns, are obese, smoke, drink excessively, have experienced significant stress or are on medications such as lithium, beta-blockers, anti-malarial medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, and others

5. Psoriasis can be associated with other medical conditions

Patients with psoriasis are more likely than others to have associated health conditions such as

  • Inflammatory arthritis “psoriatic arthritis”

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis)

  • Uveitis (a form of inflammation of the eye)

  • Celiac disease

  • Metabolic syndrome: obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

6. Various treatment options are available for psoriasis

Depending on the severity and number of psoriatic plaques on your body, our dermatologist may evaluate and recommend treatments ranging from topical therapy to systemic therapy. These are personalized depending on specific condition, your family history and other conditions.

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