Psoriasis Symptoms

Last Updated: May 1 2022

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that causes patches of thick, red, scaly skin on various parts of the body. Its cause is unknown and symptoms tend to wax and wane over time.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease where skin cells regenerate too quickly and form patches thick, red, scaly patches.[1] A 2017 study found that up to 11% of adults and 1.4% of children worldwide have psoriasis.[2]

What are the main signs and symptoms of psoriasis?

Psoriasis typically looks like elevated lesions that are red, dry, and have silvery scales. They can appear anywhere on the body, such as:[1]

  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Scalp
  • Face
  • Palms
  • Feet
How is psoriasis diagnosed?

A healthcare professional must first rule out other diseases that may cause similar symptoms. During a visit with a healthcare professional, a clinical history is acquired and a comprehensive skin evaluation is done.[3]

What are some of the main medical treatments for psoriasis?

Treatment is determined by the extent and severity of symptoms. Medical treatments include:

  • Topical creams (e.g. steroids and moisturizers)
  • Oral or injected medications (e.g. immunosuppressants)
  • Phototherapy (exposing skin to different wavelengths of light)

Topical treatments are used for milder cases. If there is no response to topical treatments or for more severe cases, immunosuppressants and/or phototherapy (a treatment that uses ultraviolet light) may be used.[3]

Have any supplements been studied for psoriasis?

Dietary supplements are often sought out to relieve symptoms of psoriasis. Supplements with the most evidence include:

Some studies show that the above supplements are either beneficial or ineffective. More rigorous research is needed before recommendations can be made.[4]

What’s the connection between diet and psoriasis?

Observational studies have demonstrated that people with psoriasis consume a lower amount of foods typically found in a a Mediterranean diet (e.g., olive oil, fruits, fish, nuts, and whole grains).[5][6] Research using dietary interventions found that a hypocaloric diet in overweight or obese people with psoriasis or a gluten-free diet in people with a gluten sensitivity shows the most promise for helping reduce symptoms of psoriasis.[7] It is recommended that changes in diet should be used alongside standard medical treatments.[7]

Are there any other treatments for psoriasis?

There is some weak evidence that saltwater baths combined with phototherapy is effective. However, these findings are inconclusive and further research is required.[8] There are also some small studies suggesting that meditation can help alleviate some symptoms.[9]

What causes psoriasis?

Psoriasis is thought to be caused by an excessive immune response, which results in an overabundance of skin cells regenerating. The development of psoriasis includes a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological components.[3]

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