This patient information and photographs on Psoriasis is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Psoriasis is a common skin disease that can begin at any age. Typically it appears as scaly, red plaques on the skin. It can affect any part of the skin including the nails, but elbows, knees and the scalp are the most commonly involved areas. Psoriasis is a very unpredictable skin condition, and it often improves or worsens for no easily explained reason. Some people are troubled for only a short time while others may have a lifetime problem. Although most people will only have a plaque or two, a few individuals may have severe widespread involvement. There are several different types of psoriasis see also guttate psoriasis.
What causes it? Psoriasis is caused by skin cells dividing too rapidly which results in thickening and scaling of the skin. The reason the skin cells begin to divide so rapidly remains unknown, but part of the cause is inherited. Psoriasis often runs in families, and although you may not know of a family member with psoriasis frequently a distant relative (like a great, great uncle) will have been affected.
Is it dangerous? For the typical healthy person psoriasis is a harmless disorder. It is not related to cancer and it does not involve internal organs. Severe cases can be psychologically disabling and in rare cases it can be life threatening.
Can it be cured? The treatment program I put you-on will help control or clear the disorder, but it is not a cure. Even if the psoriasis is totally cleared, you will still be predisposed to have repeat episodes. Repeat treatments may be needed and some individuals may require continuous therapy.
Many types of treatment are available. I will try to select a treatment program which is best for your situation (see also laser treatments for psoriasis). Changes in the treatment plan are made depending on how your psoriasis responds. Please allow sufficient time for the treatment program to take effect as it may take weeks for noticeable improvement. We can best combat this problem by working together. It is important to make periodic visits to my office so adjustments can be made to keep the treatment program effective.