Psoriasis is caused by the immune system sending signals to skin cells to divide too quickly. These cells then build up on the skin resulting in thick scaling plaques. This condition can be emotionally distressing due to associated symptoms such as itching and flaking skin. Patients with psoriasis can also experience joint pain and arthritis. Patients often fear the stigma of psoriasis as others may be concerned that the condition is contagious. This is an autoimmune disorder and is not contagious.
Treatment options are determined by the severity of the disorder. Mild psoriasis can be controlled with moisturizing, over the counter creams and ointments, as well as prescribed topical steroid and vitamin D preparations. More extensive psoriasis requires a systemic approach which includes phototherapy, methotrexate, or biologic medications. Psoriatic arthritis results from the immune system attacking the joints. This type of arthritis can be debilitating and is often treated systemically to control the progression of joint involvement.