What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease, which may affect the skin and also the joints. Psoriasis is identified specifically by the formation of typical plaques (silvery scales).

Psoriasis (silvery scales) is derived from the Greek "psao", which translates as "itching" in English. It causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin. However, in many patients this affects not just the skin, but at times also the joints. Despite the sometimes extreme symptoms, psoriasis is not contagious; rather it is caused by a malfunction of the body's own immune system. Psoriasis is also commonly accompanied by metabolic disorders or cardiovascular diseases.

More than just a skin disorder

Psoriasis is not just a cosmetic problem: Even patients with mild symptoms are impaired in their daily activities.

Due to the physical appearance of psoriasis, this disease often leads to psychological problems, such as depression and marginalisation. Even people with mild expression of the dermatological symptoms feel compromised in their daily activities. The limitation to the quality of life may be particularly serious, if the disease is very obvious, as on the face, for instance.

Symptoms and co-morbidities

The most commonly affect skin regions include elbow and knee joints, and head or nails areas. The affected patches are covered with silvery-whitish scales.

Patients with psoriasis more commonly suffer from metabolic disorders, such as type II diabetes. Moreover, there is a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases in these patients. These patients are more commonly overweight and depressed than healthy people.

What causes psoriasis?

We do not yet know exactly what causes psoriasis. A combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors may trigger the disease or cause it to flare up. It is not predictable if and when psoriasis will develop.

Infections, medications, obesity and nicotine consumption are environmental factors that may contribute to a worsening of the psoriasis. The effects of stress cannot be underestimated: Family problems or professional stress have a negative effect on the development of psoriasis.

Psoriasis is not just a skin disease.
40%

Up to 40% of sufferers also develop psoriatic arthritis

 

Bei etwa einem Viertel der Patienten mit Hautsymptomen treten zudem enzündliche Gelenkerkrankungen auf, die Schmerzen, Steifheit und Schwellungen verursachen können.

We differentiate between different types of psoria

 

  • Plaque Psoriasis (common psoriasis): This is the most common type of psoriasis. The red, silvery scales may show up on the entire surface of the body. The name "Plaque psoriasis" is derived from these changes — the plaques. Some patients also suffer from psoriasis of the finger and toe nails (psoriatic nail disease). This is characterised by small dents (pitted nails), discolourations (oil stains) and separation of the nail plate.

 

  • Psoriatic arthritis: The sufferers also suffer from arthritis, an inflammation of the joints, in particular of the finger and toe joints

 

  • Guttate psoriasis: This often very itchy type commonly appears after infections and appears as a large number of small, dot-like lesions ("guttate" means dot-like).Pustular psoriasis: In this rare type, white pus-filled blisters form on red skin patches. It may affect individual patches only (for example the palms of hands and soles of feet), or the entire surface of the body.

 

  • Psoriatic nail disease: Nail changes may develop in all types of psoriasis. The finger nails are affected in around half of patients, and the toe nails to a slightly lesser extent.