Plaque psoriasis, also known as Psoriasis Vulgaris, is a lifelong disease of the immune system that triggers the body to grow skin cells up to 10 times faster than normal. Instead of shedding, these skin cells pile up on the surface and form patches, or lesions, called plaques. Plaques are raised, inflamed, red lesions covered by a silvery white scale that are typically found on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back.
There are five types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis. Approximately 80 percent of all people who have psoriasis, suffer from moderate to severe plaque psoriasis – that’s about 1.5 million Americans.
Symptoms of Plaque Psoriasis
Plaque psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, but are most commonly found on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back. People with plaque psoriasis may notice that there are times when their skin worsens, then gets better. This cycle is commonly referred to as a ‘flare-up’. Factors that cause these ‘flare-ups’ can include:
- Emotional stress
- Injury to the skin
- Some types of infections
- Reactions to certain drugs
Diagnosing and Treating Plaque Psoriasis
A doctor usually diagnoses psoriasis by visually examining the skin and taking a thorough patient history. In some cases, the doctor may take a small sample of skin and send it to a lab for analysis. Doctors also consider where on the body the plaques are located. They may also measure the severity of plaque psoriasis by how it affects a person’s ability to perform daily activities. Psoriasis can have a significant impact on a person’s daily activities, even if it involves a small area of the body.
Currently, there is no cure for psoriasis. However, there are treatments that help control the symptoms. Treatments may include medications applied to the skin or taken by mouth, ultraviolet light therapy, or medications given by injection or infusion. What works for one person with psoriasis might not work for another. So it’s important to know the different treatment options and keep trying until you find the right regimen for you.
Some new advances in the treatment of psoriasis are designed to work on the immune system to slow down the excessive build up of skin cells that lead to plaques on the skin. While these new treatments may be effective at controlling the condition, they may also inhibit your ability to fight other infections. If this type of medication is your treatment of choice, then you will need to pay close attention to your overall health. If you have any sign of an infection including a fever, cough, flu-like symptoms, or have any open sores on your body, let your doctor know right away.
If you suffer from psoriasis, be your own advocate – learn more about the condition, what causes it and how to treat it by contacting the National Psoriasis Foundation or visiting their website at www.psoriasis.org.
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