Psoriasis is a chronic (long-lasting) skin disease of scaling and inflammation that affects greater than 3 percent of the U.S. population, or more than 5 million adults.
Although there is currently no cure for psoriasis, researchers continue to explore new medications and treatments including biologics that are used to treat plaque psoriasis and other psoriatic conditions.
Research studies aim to find out if investigational treatments for plaque psoriasis are safe and effective.
If you have been living with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis, you may qualify to participate in a clinical research study.
The cause of psoriasis is not fully understood, but it is believed to have a genetic component. There is no cure for psoriasis, but various treatments can help control the symptoms.
The cause of psoriasis is not fully understood, but it is believed to have a genetic component. There is no cure for psoriasis, but various treatments can help control the symptoms. Clinical trials may be an option if you have tried various treatments without success or cannot tolerate the side effects.
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. These studies also may show which medical approaches work best for certain illnesses or groups of people. Clinical trials produce the best data available for health care decision making. Carefully conducted clinical trial are the fastest and safest way to find treatments that work in people. Treatments tested in clinical trials also are tested in a way that makes the trial results valid and reliable.
Active clinical trials may use new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices, or new ways to use existing treatments. Other clinical trials seek better ways to prevent disease in people who have never had the disease or to prevent a disease from returning. There also are clinical trials that test new methods of screening for disease, diagnosing disease, or treating disease.
Although the disease occurs in all age groups, it primarily affects adults. It appears about equally in males and females. Psoriasis can begin at any age, but typically starts in adulthood.
The National Psoriasis Foundation reports that psoriasis strikes both males and females equally, usually between the ages of 15 and 35. However, psoriasis can affect all age groups. In fact, it is believed that up to 10 percent of people inherit one or more of the genes that create a predisposition to psoriasis, but only 2 percent to 3 percent of the population develops the disease.
Psoriasis does not discriminate by sex or ethnicity. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), around 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis—and this disease affects approximately 125 million people worldwide. But despite how common it may be, there is a lot about psoriasis that many people do not know and much confusion when it comes to telling it apart from other skin conditions with similar symptoms—particularly eczema and seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff).
The most noticeable symptom of psoriasis is its scaly appearance on areas such as the elbows, knees, back, and scalp; however, other areas such as fingernails and even inside the mouth may be affected as well. Eczema tends to appear in patches on softer areas like armpits or behind knees but may occur anywhere on your body (including your face). If you suspect you might have either condition—whether newly diagnosed or experiencing symptoms for years—it’s worth getting checked out by your doctor just in case you need treatment or medication for what’s causing your discomfort.
Symptoms vary depending on the type of psoriasis the patient has. In general, patients report raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells or scale. These patches may be itchy or sore.
Psoriasis causes the immune system to overreact, resulting in patches of thick, red skin covered with silvery scales. Psoriasis is usually found on the elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back. However, it can appear anywhere on the body. The symptoms of psoriasis may include:
- Red patches of skin covered with thick scales
- Itching or burning sensation at affected area
- Dry and cracked skin that may bleed
- Thickened or ridged nails
- Swollen and stiff joints
The symptoms can vary depending on the type of psoriasis the patient has. Below are some common symptoms:
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1) Red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales
- Red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales
- Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- Itching, burning or soreness
- Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
- Swollen and stiff joints
2) Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
- Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children): These small scaling spots are the most common form of psoriasis in children. They can appear on the scalp, elbows, knees, arms, legs or buttocks. The spots may be lighter or redder in color than the rest of the skin, and may be dry as well.
- Guttate psoriasis: Guttate psoriasis, more common in children and adults younger than 30, is characterized by small, water-drop-shaped sores on the trunk, arms and legs. The sores are typically covered by a fine scale. Diagnosis is usually made through physical examination because it is so distinctive.
3) Dry, cracked skin that bleeds
If you notice any signs of bleeding, do not panic. This is a normal symptom of psoriasis, and there are things you can do to alleviate it.
First, make sure the area that’s bleeding is completely dry. Next, apply Vaseline® or Aquaphor®. Both ointments contain petrolatum and will keep your skin moist without clogging your pores or interfering with treatment. You can also try OTC aloe vera gel or avocado oil to manage discomfort during flare-ups (although these products won’t prevent future bleeding).
To help prevent future bleeding, check out this article for easy tips on how to keep your skin healthy and soft when you have psoriasis: How to Care for Psoriatic Skin – a Beginner’s Guide
4) Itching, burning or soreness
- Itching and burning. People with psoriasis often experience both itching and burning sensations in the affected areas of their skin, especially the scalp. These symptoms may be mild or severe, depending on how they’re treated and what type of psoriasis you have. Psoriasis has a tendency to flare up at times, but periods of remission can occur as well; as you work with your doctor to treat your psoriasis symptoms, some days may be better than others.
- Dry skin and cracking. Cracking or weeping skin is another common symptom of psoriasis. It’s important to recognize that dryness is not always caused by lack of moisture—if you’ve noticed that your skin is feeling rough or bumpy on certain parts of the body, it could be due to plaque buildup from psoriatic lesions rather than dryness from other causes.
5) Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
- Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
If you notice changes in your nail health, they may be related to psoriasis. Nail psoriasis can affect several aspects of your nails including the following:
- Color changes around the cuticle with discoloration
- Thickening of the nail itself with a yellowish-brown hue
- Pitting of the nail where small holes begin appearing on the surface (think a moon crater)
- Small dots scattered across the surface of your nail called splinter hemorrhages
These symptoms may affect both fingernails and toenails and often lead to discomfort when wearing shoes or engaging in other activities that put pressure on nails. If you think you have these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible for an accurate diagnosis. There are many treatment options available for those diagnosed with nail psoriasis, including topical creams, oral medications and light therapy for severe cases. Having healthy nails improves self-confidence and quality of life. In some cases untreated nail psoriasis creates permanent damage within the structure of the fingernails which impacts comfort during daily activities like typing on a keyboard at work or playing basketball with friends.
6) Swollen and stiff joints
To get an idea of what psoriasis looks like, think of red bumps that are covered by silvery scales. A common type of psoriasis known as plaque psoriasis may cause these symptoms on the skin, but it can also affect the joints. This is called psoriatic arthritis.
When people have this condition and have patches of raised red skin, they tend to have swollen and stiff joints. If you have plaque psoriasis, you might notice stiffness in your fingers or toes when you first wake up in the morning. If your joint pain isn’t severe and doesn’t affect your work or daily activities, it may be temporary. But if it is severe enough to interfere with your daily life or makes performing simple tasks difficult, then you should speak with a doctor about treatment options for both the joint pain and other aspects of the disease.