By: Kelsey Davis

Starting August 1st, the National Psoriasis Foundation will launch their 31-day campaign featuring educational articles, blogs, and webcasts discussing psoriasis. Psoriasis Awareness Month is important for spreading awareness and educating the public while supporting those affected. We can help by having an open discussion about psoriasis.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an incurable, chronic skin disease affecting over 125 million people (the equivalent of 3% of the worldwide population). Of these 125 million patients, one-third suffer from moderate to severe side effects. This disease can significantly impact quality of life. 75% of patients feel unattractive, 54% feel depressed. 31% have financial distress, and 8% are restricted to working at home. On top of this distress, psoriasis comorbidities with depression, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.

What are symptoms?

Symptoms can vary from individual to individual, but the most common include:

  • Red patches of skin that are covered with thick scales
  • Small spots that will continue to grow (most common in children)
  • Dry, cracked skin that may start to bleed
  • Thick and ridged nails
  • Stiff joints

What is the cause of psoriasis?

Psoriasis is believed to be related to an autoimmune system issue involving T cells and white blood cells, but the exact cause is still being discovered. A T cell’s main purpose is to protect your body from viruses and bacteria. However, if you have psoriasis, these cells attack healthy skin cells by mistake. When T cells are overactive, the overproduction of healthy skin cells are produced, causing redness, warmth, and skin lesions. This is a continual cycle where skin cells will build into an outermost layer in days, rather than a week. Researchers believe there is a relation to genetics and various environmental factors, but what causes T cell issues is unknown.

What are the types of Psoriasis?

  • Plaque Psoriasis: inflamed, red lesions covered by silvery white scales often found on elbows, knees, scalp, and lower back. This is the most common type of psoriasis, affecting 80% of patients.
  • Guttate Psoriasis: small, pink, individual spots on the torso, arms, and legs often starting in childhood.
  • Inverse Psoriasis: bright-red lesions that are smooth and shiny on in the armpits, groin, and under the breasts.
  • Pustular Psoriasis: white blisters of noninfectious pus surrounded by red skin often seen on hands and feet. Most commonly found in adults.
  • Erythrodermic Psoriasis: periodic, widespread, redness and shedding of scales on the skin. This affects most of the body.