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Plaque Psoriasis

What Is Plaque Psoriasis?

Plaque psoriasis is an inherited systemic inflammatory disease of immune dysfunction that causes plaques of elevated, scaling, inflamed skin that is often quite itchy. The plaques are characteristically found on the scalp, elbows, and knees. Plaque psoriasis is relatively common; about 2%-3% of population of the United States is affected. It is not contagious.

What Are Plaque Psoriasis Causes and Risk Factors?

Like many other diseases, there is a significant interplay of genetic and environmental factors. Certain mutations pave the way for the development of the disease. It seems likely that more than one mutation in more than one gene must be present simultaneously to develop psoriasis. Once the genes are inherited, some sort of environmental factor is necessary to activate it. Such a factor could be a common viral or bacterial infection or even a simple injury.

What Are Plaque Psoriasis Symptoms and Signs?

The characteristic signs and symptoms of psoriasis are small scaly, red bumps. These bumps generally join together into elevated plaques of skin and most often are visible on the elbows, knees, and scalp, although any area of skin can be involved. Frequently, these plaques are quite itchy. Rarely, most of the patient's skin surface is affected.

When Should Someone Seek Medical Care for Plaque Psoriasis?

Most dermatologists are able to confirm the diagnosis of psoriasis. The physician can provide helpful suggestions on how to minimize exacerbations of the condition and treatment options. In minimal disease, over-the-counter medications may be sufficient to control the condition. In more severe, extensive, and perhaps debilitating disease, physicians have a variety of treatments that can lessen but not permanently cure psoriasis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017

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