- What Does Plaque Psoriasis Look Like?
- Causes of Plaque Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin condition that causes skin to be red, thick, scaly, and flaky.
Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis, affecting about 80% of people with the condition. Plaques are areas of skin that are thick, dry, red, or dark, with silvery-white scales that can itch or burn. Plaques commonly occur on the scalp, knees, elbows, and in or around the belly button, and lower back but can affect any area of the body.
What Are Symptoms of Plaque Psoriasis?
Plaque psoriasis symptoms may worsen (flare) for a few weeks or months and then subside (go into remission).
Symptoms of plaque psoriasis may include:
- Plaques, which are patches of skin that:
- Are thick, dry, red, or dark
- Have silvery-white scales that can itch or burn
- Most often occur on the scalp, knees, elbows and torso
- Usually appear symmetrically on the body, and affect the same areas of the body on the right and left side
- Nail changes (nail psoriasis) often accompany plaque psoriasis, and nails may be:
- Different in color
- Emotional effects
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Occurs in some patients
- Stiff, swollen, painful joints
What Causes Plaque Psoriasis?
Plaque psoriasis is caused by an overactive immune system, but the reason this occurs in some people is not known.
Triggers for psoriasis flares include:
How Is Plaque Psoriasis Diagnosed?
Plaque psoriasis is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination of the skin, nails, and scalp.
A small sample of skin may be taken to confirm a diagnosis of plaque psoriasis.
What Is the Treatment for Plaque Psoriasis?
There is no cure for plaque psoriasis, but treatments can relieve the symptoms. Treatment for psoriasis includes:
- Topical treatments, such as creams and ointments
- Prescription topical treatments
- Over-the-counter (OTC) topical treatments
- Salicylic Acid
- Coal Tar
- Apply after showering and hand washing
- Shower in lukewarm water and limit showers to 10 minutes or less
- Bath solutions such as oatmeal, oil, Epsom salts, or Dead Sea salts
- Scale lifters (keratolytics) usually contain an active ingredient of salicylic acid, urea, lactic acid, or phenol
- Coverings (occlusion) applied over topical treatments such as plastic wrap, cellophane, waterproof dressing, cotton socks, or a nylon suit
- Anti-itch treatments such as hydrocortisone, calamine, diphenhydramine hydrochloride, camphor, benzocaine, and menthol (may increase irritation and dryness)
- Aloe vera, jojoba, zinc pyrithione, capsaicin and others may also help moisturize, soothe, remove scales, or relieve itching
- Phototherapy (light therapy)
- Ultraviolet light B (UVB): broad band and narrow band
- Psoralen + UVA (PUVA)
- Systemic treatments
- Biologics and biosimilars
- Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors such as certolizumab pegol (Cimzia), etanercept (Enbrel), adalimumab (Humira), infliximab (Remicade), golimumab (Simponi and Simponi Aria)
- Interleukin 12 and 23 (IL-12, IL-23) inhibitors such as ustekinumab (Stelara)
- Interleukin 17 (IL-17) inhibitors such as secukinumab (Cosentyx), brodalumab (Siliq), and ixekizumab (Taltz)
- T-cell inhibitors such as Orencia (abatacept)
- Interleukin 23 (IL-23) inhibitors such as tildrakizumab-asmn (Ilumya), risankizumab-rzaa (Skyrizi), and Tremfya (guselkumab)
- Biosimilars to adalimumab (Humira)
- Biosimilars to etanercept (Enbrel)
- Biosimilars to infliximab (Remicade)
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) including tofacitinib (Xeljanz and Xeljanz XR)
- Traditional oral systemics
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- Biologics and biosimilars
- Integrative and complementary approaches
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