Psoriasis

This is now the third month that your 16-year-old is scratching away at his knee. You notice raised, red bumps that won’t go away. In fact,they get worse. And you get scared! But stay calm. Before you let your mind wander into the world of flesh-eating bacteria, there are many skin disorders that may lead to those unsightly little bumps: Eczema, hives, or maybe even something called psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a condition you may have heard of before. It is chronic, but treatable.

Here’s an overview and what you may want to know about it.

Who Can Get Psoriasis?

Anyone can get it — all races, all ages. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, about 7.5 million people in the United States have psoriasis. It often develops between the ages of 15 and 35, but it can develop at any age really. Young children and even infants can have it in rare cases. And it’s not uncommon for the condition to start in someone aged 60 years and older. Research shows that men and women develop the condition at equal rates.

What Does Psoriasis Look Like and Feel Like?

Psoriasis causes silver, white, or red patches along with scaly skin that could be described as dry, itchy, and sometimes painful. It is usually found on the outside of the elbows, knees, or scalp, although it can appear on any part of the body. Because it causes skin cells to grow at an abnormally fast rate, people with the condition may notice a buildup of lesions.

Where Does Psoriasis Come From?

Though this skin condition may look a little icky, it is not contagious. So, if you think you have it, don’t worry — you didn’t get it from someone, nor can you spread it to someone else. While it still isn’t confirmed what causes it, research indicates that genetics and an individual’s immune system are definite factors in its development. There is usually something that triggers a flare-up of the condition like stress, medications, diet, alcohol, or a skin injury.

How is Psoriasis Treated?

Creams and ointments, like topical corticosteroids, can typically treat mild to moderate psoriasis effectively. For more severe cases, your doctor will likely combine creams with oral medications or light therapy.

Topical creams to treat psoriasis can include:

  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Anthralin
  • Topical retinoids
  • Calcineurin inhibitors
  • Salicylic acid
  • Coal tar

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