Plaque Psoriasis: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Options

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that affects approximately three percent  of the entire world's population. Plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the condition, causes plaques to develop on the skin and inside of the mouth. Individuals with plaque psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing inflammatory arthritis and other autoimmune disorders. While there is no cure for the condition, there are a variety of treatments that help to relieve discomfort and pain caused by flare-ups. 

What Causes Psoriasis?

The specific cause of plaque psoriasis is not completely understood, but the condition is believed to be triggered by an immune response, due to the fact that the skin eruptions that occur during outbreaks consist of multiple dead skin cells, which can be contributed to an overgrowth of healthy new skin cells. Family genetics, cigarette smoking, obesity and recurrent bacterial infections such as strep throat may also increase the risk of developing psoriasis.

Symptoms of Plaque Psoriasis 

Raised, scaling patches of skin are the most common symptom of plaque psoriasis. The plaques can develop anywhere on the body, inside the mouth and on the genitals, but typically occur on the knees, scalp, fingers, knees and elbows. The plaques are red in color and covered with silver skin cells, also referred to as scales. Depending on the severity of the outbreak, the patches may also itch, bleed and cause significant pain. In most cases, individuals with plaque psoriasis experience symptomatic flare-up periods along with periods of remission. While flare-ups can occur without warning, stress, injury and illness are also believed to trigger symptomatic episodes. 

Treatment Options

Plaque psoriasis cannot be cured, but sufferers can often find relief with over-the-counter skin creams and topical prescription medications. Over-the-counter creams that contain corticosteroids are often recommended for mild flare-ups, as the ingredients work well to combat itching and swelling. Over-the-counter soaps and body washes that contain coal tar or salicylic acid can also help to relieve uncomfortable symptoms. For severe symptoms, use dermatologist-prescribed topical medications and skin-wrapping treatments that provide continual moisture. It is always best for individuals with potential signs of plaque psoriasis to consult with a dermatologist, regardless of symptom severity, especially if the plaques spread or persist. 

Relief From Chronic Discomfort

While individuals with plaque psoriasis must unfortunately deal with flare-ups throughout their entire lifetimes, the condition can be managed. Taking steps to reduce stress and quitting smoking may help to minimize the severity of outbreaks, and topical creams and dermatologist treatments work well to calm symptoms of pain and itching. By staying one step ahead of potential flareups and consulting regularly with a professional dermatologist, like Stephen A Switlyk MD, sufferers can often find relief from chronic discomfort.