What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic, autoimmune skin disease that speeds up the growth cycle of skin cells.
What are the symptoms of psoriasis?
Psoriasis causes patches of thick red skin and silvery scales. Patches are typically found on the elbows, knees, scalp, lower back, face, palms, and soles, but can affect other places (fingernails, toenails, mouth). There are different types of psoriasis, but the most common type is called plaque psoriasis.
Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory type of arthritis that eventually occurs in 10%-20% of people with psoriasis. It is different from more common types of arthritis (such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis) and is thought to be related to the underlying problem of psoriasis.
Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are sometimes considered together as psoriatic disease.
Who is at risk for psoriasis?
Anyone can get psoriasis. It occurs mostly in adults, but children can also get it. Men and women seem to have equal risk. Psoriasis is not contagious.
What causes psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that part of the body’s own immune system becomes overactive and attacks normal tissues in the body.
How is psoriasis diagnosed and treated?
Psoriasis often has a typical appearance that a primary care doctor can recognize, but it can be confused with other skin diseases (like eczema), so a dermatologist (skin doctor) is often the best doctor to diagnose it. The treatment of psoriasis usually depends on the extent of disease or its severity or location (especially the face). Treatments range from creams and ointments applied to the affected areas to ultraviolet light therapy to treatment with drugs (such as methotrexate). Psoriasis may be associated with serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and depression.
Psoriatic arthritis can be difficult to distinguish from other types of arthritis, so a rheumatologist (arthritis doctor) is often the best doctor to diagnose it. The treatment of psoriatic arthritis usually involves treatment with drugs (such as methotrexate).
Current CDC Activities
Efforts to deal with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis have typically addressed the individual with the condition and focused on clinical and biomedical research issues. In 2010 CDC worked with experts in psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and public health to develop a public health perspective that considers how these conditions affect the entire population. The resulting report is Developing and Addressing the Public Health Agenda for Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis (Agenda) [PDF - 380.44KB]. A short article about the Agenda will be published in the April 2013 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Anyone or organization (dermatologic or public health) with an interest in psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can use the Agenda. Questions related to psoriasis have also been included in some cycles of CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. These data are useful in providing national estimates on the prevalence of psoriasis.
What are other sources for information of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis?