Psoriasis is usually a lifelong recurring (or chronic) skin condition. The severity of the problem ranges from mild, and the individual is unaware that they have it, to severe with large portions of the body being affected and hospitalization necessary. It is not contagious from person to person. It does not generally spread to healthy skin areas of the affected individual as a result of contact with the problem areas.
The general symptoms are the presence of thick, red, dry, scaly patches of skin, where old skin has not had time to shed. Psoriasis often affects the scalp, the trunk of the body (especially the lower back), the elbows and knees, fingernails, palms of the hands, and the soles of the feet. Fortunately, in most cases the facial area does not develop this skin problem. Other symptoms are that the skin itches, cracks, and may bleed making the individual very uncomfortable.
This skin problem is not generally race dependent. However, certain studies have indicated that populations in Western Europe and Scandinavia have a greater occurrence of this skin problem than for people in other parts of the world. It is less common in Asian and Native American people.
How common is the problem? It affects about 2 percent of the population. Any age group is vulnerable and men and women are equally affected. Symptoms usually appear between the ages of 15 and 35. Of the people that develop this skin problem, 75 percent do so before 40 years of age. As for children, 10 percent can develop psoriasis. The trend is that the earlier the problem occurs, the greater the probability that it will be recurrent later in life.
There are many different psoriasis types. Plaque is the most common form of this skin disease and accounts for about 80 percent of all cases. The next most common is the guttate version. Ten percent of the population suffer from this type. Other forms are pustular, inverse, and erythrodermic. Each form of this skin disease has its own characteristic traits and symptoms.
As with many other skin conditions, the exact causes for this skin problem are difficult to determine. However, there are certain factors which can make the condition worse or cause a flare-up. These factors are: an infection, use of certain medications, skin injury, or various other factors.
Finally, for suffers of this skin condition, an effective treatment is desired. Unfortunately, available treatments do not cure the skin problem, but they can relieve the symptoms and discomfort. Typical treatments include: corticosteroids, tars, tree bark extract, vitamin D-3 derivatives, Retinoid, ultra-violet light, and oral drugs.