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in & around Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that appears on the skin. It occurs when the immune system mistakes the skin cells as a pathogen, and sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis is not contagious. However, psoriasis has been linked to an increased risk of stroke. There are five types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic. The most common form, plaque psoriasis, is commonly seen as red and white hues of scaly patches appearing on the top first layer of the epidermis (skin). Some patients, though, have no dermatological symptoms.

In plaque psoriasis, skin rapidly accumulates at these sites, which gives it a silvery-white appearance. Plaques frequently occur on the skin of the elbows and knees, but can affect any area, including the scalp, palms of hands and soles of feet, and genitals. In contrast to eczema, psoriasis is more likely to be found on the outer side of the joint. The disorder is a chronic recurring condition that varies in severity from minor localized patches to complete body coverage. Fingernails and toenails are frequently affected (psoriatic nail dystrophy) and can be seen as an isolated symptom. Psoriasis can also cause inflammation of the joints, which is known as psoriatic arthritis. Between 10-30% of all people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis. The cause of psoriasis is not fully understood, but it is believed to have a genetic component and local psoriatic changes can be triggered by an injury to the skin known as the Koebner phenomenon. Various environmental factors have been suggested as aggravating to psoriasis, including stress, withdrawal of systemic corticosteroid, as well as other environmental factors, but few have shown statistical significance. There are many treatments available, but because of its chronic recurrent nature, psoriasis is a challenge to treat. Withdrawal of corticosteroids (topical steroid cream) can aggravate the condition due to the "rebound effect" of corticosteroids but this may be followed by cure. Psoriasis is typically a lifelong condition. There is currently no cure, but various treatments can help to control the symptoms. Many of the most effective agents used to treat severe psoriasis carry an increased risk of significant morbidity including skin cancers, lymphoma and liver disease. However, the majority of people's experience of psoriasis is that of minor localized patches, particularly on the elbows and knees, which can be treated with topical medication. Psoriasis can get worse over time, but it is not possible to predict who will go on to develop extensive psoriasis or those in whom the disease may appear to vanish. Individuals will often experience flares and remissions throughout their lives. Controlling the signs and symptoms typically requires lifelong therapy. According to one study, psoriasis is linked to 2.5-fold increased risk for nonmelanoma skin cancer in men and women, with no preponderance of any specific histologic subtype of cancer. This increased risk could also be attributed to antipsoriatic treatment.

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