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Psoriasis - Basics Facts - What Is Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common, chronic, non-contagious, reoccurring skin condition consisting of red, scaly, well defined, thickened areas of varying sizes. Any part of your skin on the body and on your nails can be affected. Arthritis may be associated with your psoriasis. The scalp, elbows, knees and lower back are commonly affected, but the face is usually not.

Key Points:

  • Psoriasis is chronic and reoccurring
  • It produces red, scaly, well defined patches
  • Psoriasis can affect any part of the skin on your body,
  • particularly the scalp, elbows, knees and lower back
  • It may include nail involvement and arthritis

Who Can Get Psoriasis?

Psoriasis affects approximately 2% of the population, men and women in any age group can be affected. One type of psoriasis usually begins between the ages of 20 and 30 and runs in families, but the inheritance is variable. A number of genetic associations for example, a gene called HLA-Cw6 has been linked. Approximately 30% of people with this condition also have a first degree relative (that is parents, brothers, sisters and children) with psoriasis.

If you have an identical twin with psoriasis, the chance that you also have the condition is about 70%, while the risk for a twin who is not identical, is about 25%. The severity of psoriasis may vary between family members. For example, one member might have a very mild disease with only a couple of lesions, while another member might be covered with psoriasis. A second type typically begins around age 60 and does not run in families.

What Causes Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition involving the T-lymphocyte, a type of white blood cell.

Normally, the time between manufacturing and shedding skin cells is about 28 days. In psoriasis, the process is approximately 7 times faster, the outer cells are poorly formed and donít shed properly. They tend to pile up on the skin producing the scale.


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