Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis. This autoimmune disease is a lifelong illness that causes scaly, red patches to develop on the skin. While the exact cause of plaque psoriasis is unknown, it is thought to occur when the immune system sends out faulty signals that increases the skin cell growth cycle. As skin cells accumulate, they form flaky, red skin patches. Learn more about plaque psoriasis to determine if you could be at risk.
What Is Plaque Psoriasis?
Plaque psoriasis is an inherited systemic inflammatory disease that can occur on nearly any part of the body, but is most commonly seen on the scalp, elbows and knees. The immune system is designed to protect the body from diseases and infections. However, an overproduction of inflammatory proteins can cause skin cells to grow too quickly. As skin cells build up, they form plaques on the skin which may itch or even bleed.
Symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of the condition. Individuals with mild plaque psoriasis may only experience occasional flare-ups. While moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis sufferers may experience uncomfortable patches on the skin all the time. Other symptoms associated with plaque psoriasis include severe dandruff that develops on the scalp, painful inflamed joints, and bumps in the genital area in men.
In most cases, your doctor will be able to diagnosis plaque psoriasis through a routine medical examination. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be required to rule out other possible conditions. While there is no existing cure currently for plaque psoriasis, there are many ways you can manage your symptoms. One or a combination of the following treatment options may help:
- Corticosteroids or steroidal creams or ointments
- Topical retinoids or calcipotrienes
- Light therapy via natural sunlight, sun lamp or ultraviolet light
- Medications administered via injection or pill
While anyone can develop plaque psoriasis, certain factors can increase your risk of developing this condition. One of the largest risks of plaque psoriasis is a family history of the disease. Individuals with HIV are also more likely to develop psoriasis than those with healthy immune systems. Other risk factors include high stress levels and excess weight. Smoking tobacco can increase your risk of psoriasis, as well as the severity of the condition.