Psoriatic Arthritis Overview
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Psoriatic arthritis is a joint disease characterized by both psoriasis and a related form of inflammatory arthritis. Psoriasis is a common skin condition. A person with psoriasis typically has patches of raised, red, scaly skin. The affected skin can look different depending on the type of psoriasis the individual has. Arthritis is joint inflammation. Psoriatic arthritis is a particular type of aggressive and potentially destructive, inflammatory arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the immune system attacks one's own tissues. Rarely, a person can have psoriatic arthritis without having obvious psoriasis. Usually, the more severe the skin symptoms are, the greater the likelihood a person will have psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis affects a small percentage of white people in North America, and is less common in African-American and Native-American people. Psoriatic arthritis affects approximately 15% of people with psoriasis. Many people who have psoriasis may not know that they have psoriatic arthritis.
Males and females are equally likely to have psoriasis. Of patients with psoriatic arthritis, males are more likely to have the form in which the spine is affected (spondylitic form), and females are more likely to have the form in which many joints on both sides of the body are involved (rheumatoid form).
Psoriatic arthritis usually develops in people 35-55 years of age. However, it can develop in people of almost any age.
Psoriatic Arthritis Causes and Risk Factors
The cause of psoriatic arthritis is not known. It may result from a combination of genetic (family), environmental, and immune factors. A significant percentage of people with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis have a close relative with the condition. This inherited tendency may be the strongest underlying risk factor. Sometimes psoriasis may be linked to previous infections.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/23/2015
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