Psoriasis is a chronic disease. It affects men and women, young and old. Over the recent years, our understanding of what causes psoriasis has improved. Currently, it is thought to be a disease of the immune system. It is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person. It is not clear what causes it to develop but it does tend to run in families and in some patients, genetics may play a more prominent role.
There are various types of psoriasis. The most common form is plaque psoriasis. This type causes pink to red, itchy or sore patches of thick skin, often covered by silvery scale. These patches can develop anywhere but most commonly occur on the scalp, elbows, knees, lower back, and buttocks. Psoriasis may also affect the skin folds (inverse psoriasis), palms and soles (palmoplantar psoriasis) and fingernails. In about 1/3 of patients, it will affect the joints (psoriatic arthritis).
There are many treatment options for psoriasis. In general, the treatment ladder includes topical therapy, phototherapy, and then systemic medications. Systemic medications refer to medications taken by mouth or by injection that work from within the body. Dr. Weese will work with you to determine a treatment regimen that is effective and practical. In general, the regimen depends on the location and severity of the psoriasis, response to past treatments, other medical problems and whether or not there is joint involvement present.
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