August is National Psoriasis Awareness Month. Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches that typically cause itchy, burning and stinging sensations on the skin. Although psoriasis typically affects the elbows, knees and scalp, it can also appear all over the body. According to the Mayo Clinic scientists are unsure what exactly causes psoriasis, but we do know that the interplay of genetics and the immune system shoulder a lot of the blame. Typically, psoriasis is triggered by medication, stress, infection or injury. It is the result of the life cycle of skin cells speeding up. The itchy, scaly patches on the skin are caused by excess skin cells, however it is not contagious.
Psoriasis usually develops in people between the ages of 15 and 35, but it has been observed in young children, although rare. The National Psoriasis Foundation tells us that anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of those with psoriasis get it before the age of 10. Men and women develop psoriasis at similar rates. Psoriasis also occurs in all racial groups, with the variance between African-Americans and Caucasians being between 1.9 percent and 3.6 percent. About one third of those diagnosed with psoriasis have a family member with psoriasis.
The Mayo Clinic describes five different types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular and erthyrodermic. Psoriasis can show up anywhere-including the genitals, scalp, face and nails. If you are worried that you might be showing symptoms of psoriasis, please consult with a doctor. The Student Health Clinic has providers who can examine your skin and make recommendations. Dermatologists can examine infected skin to determine if you indeed have psoriasis and offer treatment if needed. There is no cure for psoriasis, but symptoms can be managed.