Thursday, August 8, 2013

National Psoriasis Month

August is National Psoriasis Month. I am sure most of you are thinking, “What is psoriasis?” The National Psoriasis Foundation states that as many as 7.5 million of Americans have a form of psoriasis. So what is it? Psoriasis is a chronic, non-contagious, autoimmune skin disease. The skin lesions appear when the immune system sends out “faulty” signals that tell skin cells to speed up their production.  There are five types of psoriasis that occur and each looks very unique. 

Plaque psoriasis (also known as psoriasis vulgaris) is the most common and it appears as red, raised patches with a silvery white buildup on top which are dead skin cells. Plaque psoriasis appears mostly on the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back. Depending on how severe of a case the treatments vary from prescribed topical treatments, phototherapy or systemic medications. 

Guttate psoriasis normally starts young children and adolescents. This is the second most common form of psoriasis and only about 10 percent of people who have psoriasis develop this form. Guttate psoriasis occurs suddenly and appears as small, red, separate spots on the trunk, arms, legs and sometimes the scalp, face and ears. Some things that might trigger Guttate psoriasis are upper respiratory infections, streptococcal infections, tonsillitis, stress, skin injuries and some medications. 

Inverse psoriasis (also known as also known as intertriginous psoriasis) is red lesions that appear in body folds and is smooth and shiny.  Most commonly inverse psoriasis is found in armpits, groin and other skin folds of the body. With inverse psoriasis the areas are tenderer because the areas are more subject to irritation because of rubbing and sweating. 

Pustular psoriasis is known for the white blisters surrounded by red skin. This type of lesion can be localized, such as having it on the hands and feet only. It is possible for some to have Pustular psoriasis covering the whole body (generalized). There is a cycle to pustular psoriasis which goes as follows: reddening of skin, blisters and scales. Triggers for this are internal medicines, irritating topical agents, overexposure to UV light, pregnancy, systemic steroids, infections, emotional stress, and sudden withdrawal of systemic medications or topical steroids. There are three types of pustular psoriasis (Von Zumbusch, Palmoplantar putulosis, and Acropustulosis). 

Erythrodermic psoriasis is the inflammatory form of psoriasis affects most of the body. This is the rarest form of psoriasis because it occurs in less than 3% of the lifetime of people living with psoriasis. Normally it occurs with those who have uncontrolled plaque psoriasis and can occur with von Zumbusch pustular psoriasis. The lesions for erythrodermic psoriasis are not clearly defined and are widespread.The lesions are fiery red with white skin exfoliation covering the lesions. Exfoliation can occur in large sheets. This form of psoriasis is accompanied with itching and pain. If you have a breakout of erythrodermic psoriasis, you should contact your doctor immediately because this form is life threatening because it throws off the body’s chemistry and causes protein and fluid loss. Triggers for erythrodermic psoriasis are: abrupt withdrawal of systemic treatment, severe sunburn, allergic, drug-induced rash that brings on the Koebner phenomenon (a tendency for psoriasis to appear on the site of skin injuries), use of systemic steroids, infection, emotional stress and alcoholism. 

Treatment for all types of psoriasis varies from steroid ointments, systemic medicines, phototherapy, some over the counter medicines and combination of treatments. The type of treatment is determined by a proper diagnosis by a physician. If you have any the symptoms described above, consult your physician. If you need more information about psoriasis, look at the National Psoriasis Foundation or the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Share your tips for how you keep your skin healthy!

You might also be interested in:
July is UV Safety Month
Tips for Beating Stress: Stay Mentally Clear and Healthy as the School Year Starts

National Psoriasis Foundation. (2013). About psoriasis. Retrieved from
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2013). Psoriasis. Retrieved from

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