Common Symptoms of Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the skin’s growth cycle. It is not a contagious autoimmune disease, and there are a number of treatments available for those suffering from the condition. The National Institutes of Health reports that approximately 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis, as of 2010. The condition is considered severe when more than 10 percent of the body has psoriasis, and mild when less than two percent of the body has psoriasis.

Identifying Psoriasis

The exact cause of psoriasis remains unknown, but medical experts believe that some environmental factors can contribute to the formation of skin plaques and a poorly functioning immune system. Genetic predisposition may also play a role in the development of this disease.

Most people have plaque psoriasis, a condition where patches of skin get covered in raised, red patches and lesions. If you have this type of psoriasis, you’ll notice that some parts of your skin are very red or pink and become thick, dry and scaly. These patches usually appear over the scalp, knees and elbows. Skin that is prone to wearing down, such as areas that have suffered trauma or areas that are rubbed regularly, may develop thicker lesions.

Symptoms of Psoriasis

There are several different types of psoriasis, so symptoms vary significantly from person to person, and by condition. Dry, white and flaky skin is one of the most common symptoms of psoriasis but there are dozens of others.

Common symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • Loose, silvery scales on the skin
  • Small scaling spots
  • Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
  • Dry skin that bleeds spontaneously
  • Swollen joints
  • Very stiff joints
  • Thickening of the nails
  • Pitted or ridged nails
  • Dandruff-like scaling of the skin
  • Water drop-shaped sores on the trunk, arms, legs and scalp
  • Patches of red, inflamed and itchy skin
  • Pus-filled blisters

Milder cases of psoriasis can be fairly easy to hide and manage, but more severe cases can be painful and emotionally damaging. If you have psoriasis, you’ll notice that your skin goes through cycles of flare ups followed by periods where there are no eruptions or excessive flakiness. This cycle will continue throughout the course of your life, even when it seems that the condition has gone into complete remission.

In some cases, psoriasis is triggered by spending too much time in the sun or by taking corticosteroids and other types of medication. Other triggers may include skin injuries, stress, infection, heavy alcohol consumption, hormonal imbalances and smoking. Even simple things such as shaving, a chemical peel, tattoos or acupuncture can cause the formation of lesions, blisters, redness and swelling of the skin.

If you are experiencing some of the symptoms of psoriasis, set up a consultation with a dermatologist or your family physician. A qualified health professional can help to determine the type of psoriasis you have, and create a treatment plan that will help you keep the symptoms and effects of the disease under control.