Psoriasis in a NutshellPosted by Medicare Made Clear
October 29 is World Psoriasis Day — a day dedicated to increasing awareness of psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis and to help improve health care access for the more than 125 million1 people worldwide who have them.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes itchy, burning, raised, scaly patches on the skin. It typically affects the outside of the elbows, knees or scalp. Depending on the type of psoriasis, it can also appear on other parts of the body.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the disease. It usually appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells or scales on the scalp, knees, elbows or the lower back. They are often itchy and painful and they can crack and bleed.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, a person will typically have only one form of psoriasis at a time. However, it is possible to have one form of psoriasis clear up and have another form appear in its place or somewhere else on the body. These forms of psoriasis include:
- Guttate: This is the second most common form of psoriasis. It often starts in childhood or young adulthood. This form of psoriasis appears as small, red, separate spots, usually on the trunk and limbs.
- Inverse: This form shows up as very red lesions in body folds. It may appear smooth and shiny. Some people may have another form of psoriasis elsewhere on the body at the same time.
- Pustular: This form of psoriasis in characterized by white pustules (blisters of noninfectious pus) surrounded by red skin. The pus consists of white blood cells. It is not an infection, nor is it contagious.
- Erythrodermic: This is an inflammatory form of psoriasis that often affects most of the body’s surface. Widespread, fiery redness and exfoliation of the skin characterize this form. Severe itching and pain often accompanies it. It is a rare type of psoriasis, occurring once or more during the lifetime of three percent of people who have psoriasis. This form of psoriasis can be life-threatening.
Possible Complications of Psoriasis
People with psoriasis have an increased risk of developing other chronic and serious health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression. It is estimated that up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis will also develop psoriatic arthritis.2 Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can cause major physical disability and problems with professional and social relationships as well.
Treatment options may include stress reduction, itch management and at-home remedies, like applying products to keep the skin moisturized and to minimize scaling and flaking. Prescription treatments, such as antihistamines, phototherapy, steroids or topical anesthetics may also be used.
Successful treatment of your psoriasis is critical to your overall health and well-being. Remember, what’s right for one person may not be right for another. Keep working with your doctor to find a treatment plan that’s right for you.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.
Psoriasis: National Psoriasis Foundation (Psoriasis.org)
World Psoriasis Day: International Federation of Psoriasis Association
Medicare Made Clear: MedicareMadeClear.com
1 International Federation of Psoriasis Association (IFPA)—(WorldPsoriasisDay.com): World Psoriasis Day 2014 theme: Building a Better World for People with Psoriasis
2 National Psoriasis Foundation (psoriasis.org): Health Conditions Associated with Psoriasis