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What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that occurs when the skin produces new cells more rapidly than normal. Overactive T-cells in the immune system seem to trigger psoriasis. Factors such as family history and environmental triggers may also play a role.

There are several types of psoriasis:

  • Plaque – This is the most common form of psoriasis. It appears as red patches of flaky skin and painful silver scales called plaques.

  • Guttate – This type appears as small, red dots or lesions, most often in children or young adults.

  • Inverse – Inverse psoriasis produces red, smooth lesions in the groin, under armpits, and beneath breasts, and other skin folds.

  • Pustular – This type of psoriasis causes pustules (pus-filled blisters) surrounded by red skin, usually on hands or feet.

  • Erythrodermic – This rare, severe form of psoriasis leads to fiery red skin all over the body. It can be very itchy and painful and cause skin to peel.

  • Psoriatic arthritis – Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis. It causes pain, swelling and stiffness in joints.

While there is no cure for psoriasis, symptoms can be managed.


Psoriasis symptoms vary from person to person and depend on the type.  Symptoms may include:

  • Red patches of skin with thick white or silvery raised scale

  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed

  • Smooth, red patches in folds of the skin

  • Pitted nails or nails that separate from the nail bed

  • Itching or burning sensation

  • Lesions, dots or pustules

Treatment Options

Psoriasis can be managed by a dermatologist using a variety of treatments. These include topical, oral and injectable drugs.

  • Topical treatments – Creams and ointments relieve itching and reduce inflammation in mild to moderate psoriasis. Topical include corticosteroids, Anthralin, retinoids, salicylic acid, coal tar and moisturizers.

  • Oral medications – Oral medication is prescribed for severe psoriasis. Some are not for long-term use as they may cause serious side effects. Oral drugs include acitretin, methotrexate (Rheumatrex), cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral) and apremilast (Otezla).

  • Light therapy – A treatment that exposes skin to natural or artificial ultraviolet (UV) light. Options include sunlight, UVA or narrowband UVB therapy.

  • Injectable biologics – These medications are typically given for moderate to severe psoriasis when other treatments fail. They include etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), adalimumab (Humira), ustekinumab (Stelara), secukinumab (Cosentyx, ixekizumab (Taltz[1] ), brodalumab (Siliq), guselkumab (Tremfya) and tildrakizumab (Ilumya).

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of psoriasis, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat psoriasis.