Skip to main content

What is psoriasis?

Submitted by Get Healthy Heights on August 25, 2017 at 12:07pm.
Get Healthy Heights

Psoriasis is a long-lasting skin illness. It is an autoimmune disease meaning that is caused by the immune system. The immune system protects your body from diseases and infections. Psoriasis causes the body’s own immune system to become overactive and attacks normal tissues in the body.

Psoriasis makes skin cells grow more quickly. This causes red, scaly patches to appear on the skin.

What are the symptoms of psoriasis?

Psoriasis causes patches of thick, red skin and silvery scales to appear on the skin. The skin patches usually appear on the elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, face, palms, and soles of feet, but can affect other places (fingernails, toenails, and mouth). The most common type of psoriasis is called plaque psoriasis.

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that causes swelling. It happens with time in 10% to 20% of people with psoriasis. It is different from more common types of arthritis (like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis).

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are sometimes considered together as psoriatic disease.

Who is at risk for psoriasis?

Anyone can get psoriasis. Adults more commonly have psoriasis, but children can also get it. Men and women seem to have an equal risk of getting psoriasis. Psoriasis also occurs in all racial groups, but at different rates. For example, African-Americans have psoriasis less when compared to Caucasians.

Psoriasis can develop at any age, but is more common between the ages of 15 and 35. About 10 to 15 percent of people with psoriasis get it before age 10. Some infants can also have psoriasis, although this is considered rare.

Can I get psoriasis from someone who has it?

Psoriasis is not contagious. You cannot get psoriasis from coming into contact (e.g., touching skin patches) with someone who has it.

How is psoriasis diagnosed?

The way psoriasis appears on the skin makes it easy for a primary care doctor to recognize. However, it can sometimes be confused with other skin diseases (like eczema). The best doctor to diagnose psoriasis is a dermatologist (skin doctor).

What is the treatment for psoriasis?

The treatment for psoriasis usually depends on the following three questions:

  • • How much skin is affected?
  • • How bad is the psoriasis (e.g., having many or painful skin patches)?
  • • What is the location of the skin patches (especially the face)?


Treatments range from:

  • • Creams and ointments applied to the skin
  • • Ultraviolet light therapy
  • • Medications (such as methotrexate)


Many people who have psoriasis also have serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and depression.



Psoriasis (2017). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

About Psoriasis. (2017). National Psoriasis Foundation. Retrieved from:


healthcare health conditions education