Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder that causes red, scaly patches on the limbs, trunk, scalp, and other parts of the body. It is not contagious.
The rash of psoriasis goes through cycles of improving and worsening. A period of worsening is called a “flare”. At times, psoriasis can be disfiguring, uncomfortable, and even painful.
The scaling and unpleasant appearance of psoriasis lesions (especially if left untreated) can cause embarrassment and be a significant source of anxiety or depression. Psoriasis can also interfere with sleep and make everyday tasks difficult.
Types of Psoriasis
There are five types of psoriasis, each defined by the type of skin lesions that appear.
- Plaque psoriasis appears as thickened, red scaly lesions called plaques. This is the most common type of psoriasis.
- Guttate psoriasis appears as small, drop-shaped spots on the trunk, limbs, and scalp. This is often triggered by bacterial infections, such as strep throat.
- Inverse psoriasis appears as smooth, red patches in the folds of skin near the genitals, breasts, or armpits.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis appears as a scaly, red, peeling rash that afflicts the entire body. This is an uncommon form.
- Pustular psoriasis appears as pus-filled blisters that can be widespread or localized to the hands or feet. Also uncommon.
Most people have just one type of psoriasis at a time, but it is possible to have two types simultaneously. And a person with one type of psoriasis (typically plaque psoriasis) may later develop a different type.
Most cases of psoriasis are mild, and treatment begins with skin care. This includes keeping your skin moist with creams and lotions. These are often used with other treatments including shampoos, ultraviolet light, and medicines your doctor prescribes.
In some cases, psoriasis can be hard to treat. You may need to try different combinations of treatments to find what works for you. Treatment for psoriasis may continue for a lifetime.
What can you do at home for psoriasis?
Skin care at home can help control psoriasis. Follow these tips to care for psoriasis:
- Use creams or lotions, baths, or soaks to keep your skin moist.
- Try short exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet (UV) light.
- Gently soften and remove psoriasis crusts by putting cream on the crusts and then peeling the loose crusts off. Removing crusts may help your skin to absorb creams and lotions. Remove them carefully, though, so you don’t irritate the skin.
- Follow instructions for skin products and prescribed medicines. It may take a period of trial and error until you know which skin products or methods work best for you. For mild symptoms of psoriasis, some over-the-counter medicines, such as aloe vera, may be soothing.
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