What causes psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin condition that develops when your immune system sends signals to your skin that make it grow more quickly than usual. The rapidly growing skin cells accumulate, creating a patch of psoriasis, which is a thickened area of skin that becomes covered in scales.

While psoriasis can appear at any age, it often occurs between the ages of 15 and 30. Although you’re most likely to have it on your face, scalp, palms, elbows, knees, and the soles of your feet, it can affect any part of your body.

What are the symptoms of psoriasis?

You may only have a few small spots of psoriasis, or it can spread to cover a large area. Psoriasis typically goes through cycles, so your symptoms may worsen for a time, then subside or go into remission.

You’ll experience one or more of these symptoms:

  • Red patches of skin covered with thick scales called plaques
  • Small scaling spots
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
  • Itching, burning, or soreness
  • Thickened or ridged nails
  • Swollen and stiff joints (psoriatic arthritis)

What triggers psoriasis?

Many patients find that their psoriasis breaks out or worsens from exposure to specific triggers such as:

  • Stress
  • Cold weather
  • Allergies
  • Infections
  • Skin injury
  • Certain medications

How is psoriasis treated?

The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation, clear your skin, and stop the overgrowth of skin cells. Dr. Hurst creates an individualized treatment plan that’s customized to meet your needs. Besides helping you identify triggers, your plan may include one or more of these treatment options:

  • Skin Care Regimen: Keeping your skin well moisturized is essential for relieving symptoms like itching and dryness. It’s also important to choose products for sensitive skin and to limit bathing time.
  • Medications: Dr. Hurst may prescribe topical medications that reduce inflammation and itching, slow skin cell growth, reduce scaling, and promote sloughing of dead skin cells. In severe cases, he might add oral medications to your treatment.
  • Light Therapy: Phototherapy — exposure to ultraviolet light — helps improve mild to moderate psoriasis. Your treatment may use ultraviolet B (UVB) or ultraviolet A (UVA) light plus medications that make your skin more responsive to the light.

When you notice an unusual patch of skin anywhere on your body, call Dr. Hurst to make an appointment so you can get started on a treatment plan that keeps your skin healthy.