Psoriasis is both a common and an age-old problem that affects about five percent of people worldwide. It presents as red, scaling plaques on the skin that often itch and bleed. Most commonly psoriasis occurs on the elbows and knees, but it can be found anywhere on the body, including the face and scalp.
For centuries, it has affected people in all walks of life and all nationalities. It can be progressive and may appear at any time during one’s life. It is one of the most common skin diseases, striking an estimated five percent of the world’s population.
Of those affected, approximately 25 percent can develop an associated psoriatic arthritis, which is both progressive and degenerative. Psoriatic arthritis can be debilitating. Psoriasis is not contagious, but it can interfere with normal life and social relationships and cause many sufferers to isolate themselves from friends and family.
Heredity plays a part in the disease, with approximately 10 percent of all sufferers being able to identify a genetic relative with the disease. Stress, injury, infection, medication, or trauma can trigger an initial episode or cause a flare-up of psoriasis.
There are many varieties of psoriasis, including guttate psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, plaque psoriasis, scalp psoriasis, and inverse psoriasis. Inverse psoriasis occurs in the armpit, under the breasts, and in the skin folds around the groin, buttocks, and genitals.
Scalp psoriasis is often mistaken for dandruff. Guttate psoriasis can affect anyone, but it often starts after a sore throat associated with streptococcal infection.
Pustular psoriasis is a painful condition that is limited almost exclusively to the palms and soles. Pustular psoriasis can be quite debilitating, and can even prevent walking and the ability to work with the hands. Psoriasis can also affect the nails, imitating a fungal infection and causing pits in the nails or producing brown spots under the nails known as “oil spots.”