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August 27, 2015

Psoriasis is an autoimmune, inflammatory disease that causes raised, red, dry patches to appear on skin, and affects about 7.5 million people in the United States. It causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin causing extra skin cells to form. Psoriasis most commonly affects the outside of the elbows, knees, or scalp, though it can appear on any location of the body, and is not contagious. This skin condition may be physically painful for some people but for others it may not be debilitating at all, and while there are various treatments to manage symptoms, no one treatment is effective for everyone. While scientists do not know what exactly causes psoriasis, it is known that the immune system and genetics play major roles in its development, and usually something triggers psoriasis to flare.

About 1 in 50 people develop psoriasis at some stage of their life, and it is slightly more common in women than in men. Psoriasis is most common in fair-skinned people and extremely rare in dark-skinned individuals. It can first develop at any age, but it most commonly starts between the ages of 15 and 30 years or after the age of 40 years. Also, one large study found that smokers (and ex-smokers for up to 20 years after giving up) have an increased risk of developing psoriasis compared with non-smokers. One theory for this is that toxins in cigarette smoke may affect parts of the immune system involved with psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a long-lasting chronic disease, meaning symptoms can be controlled, but cannot be cured. The primary goal of the various treatments available is to stop the skin cells from growing so rapidly. Fortunately, these treatments can offer substantial relief for those suffering from this disease. There may be instances when psoriasis symptoms get better, while other times psoriasis will worsen. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but may include red patches of skin, small dry spots, cracked skin that may bleed, itching and burning of the skin, or swollen joints. There are five types of psoriasis according to what party of the body is affected, as well as how severe and long-lasting the symptoms are: plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, and erythrodermic psoriasis. Learning more about your type of psoriasis will help you determine the best treatment for you. Most cases of psoriasis can be controlled, and most people who have psoriasis can live normal lives.

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