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    Default What is Psoriasis? Causes and Symptoms of Psoriasis

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    What is Psoriasis?

    Psoriasis is a non-contagious, common, chronic and incurable skin disease that occurs when faulty signals in the immune system cause skin cells (keratinocytes) to regenerate too quickly Ė every three to four days instead of the usual 28-30 day cycle.

    These extra skin cells build up on the skinís surface, forming red, flaky, scaly and inflamed lesions that can itch, crack, bleed and be extremely painful.

    These lesions can be very disfiguring, causes others to stare and discriminate against people with psoriasis. The disease generally affects joints, limbs, genitalia and scalp, but it can appear anywhere and even cover the whole body.

    As well as these physical effects, it can also have a significant, life-ruining impact on a patientís quality of life.1 In a National Psoriasis Foundation (US) survey, people with psoriasis reported that living with the disease might be worse than many other chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); the only condition that they deemed worse was depression.2

    The disease comes in many different forms and is categorised by doctors as either mild, moderate or severe, depending on the level of scaliness, redness and percentage of body surface area involved.

    The severity of the disease is also commonly measured in clinical trials by using an objective scaling system called PASI (Psoriasis Area and Severity Index), which takes into account signs such as redness, plaque thickness and scaling. The PASI is scored on a point system of 0 to 72, with higher numbers being more severe.

    The cause of psoriasis is not fully understood, but it is believed to have a genetic component and local psoriatic changes can be triggered by an injury to the skin known as the Koebner phenomenon,see Koebnerisin. Various environmental factors have been suggested as aggravating to psoriasis, including stress, withdrawal of systemic corticosteroid, as well as other environmental factors, but few have shown statistical significance.There are many treatments available, but because of its chronic recurrent nature, psoriasis is a challenge to treat.

    Psoriasis Symptoms

    Psoriasis signs and symptoms can vary from person to person but may include one or more of the following:

    Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
    Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
    Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
    Itching, burning or soreness
    Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
    Swollen and stiff joints.

    What causes psoriasis?

    The exact cause remains unknown. There may be a combination of factors, including genetic predisposition and environmental factors.

    It is common for psoriasis to be found in members of the same family. The immune system is thought to play a major role.

    Despite research over the past 30 years looking at many triggers, the "master switch" that turns on psoriasis is still a mystery.
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