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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References
  1. ^The content of this page was partially adapted from MedlinePlus of the National Library of Medicine
  2. ^I M Michalek, B Loring, S M JohnA systematic review of worldwide epidemiology of psoriasisJ Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol.(2017 Feb)
  3. ^April W Armstrong, Charlotte ReadPathophysiology, Clinical Presentation, and Treatment of Psoriasis: A ReviewJAMA.(2020 May 19)
  4. ^Naoko Kanda, Toshihiko Hoashi, Hidehisa SaekiNutrition and PsoriasisInt J Mol Sci.(2020 Jul 29)
  5. ^Céline Phan, Mathilde Touvier, Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot, Moufidath Adjibade, Serge Hercberg, Pierre Wolkenstein, Olivier Chosidow, Khaled Ezzedine, Emilie SbidianAssociation Between Mediterranean Anti-inflammatory Dietary Profile and Severity of Psoriasis: Results From the NutriNet-Santé CohortJAMA Dermatol.(2018 Sep 1)
  6. ^Luigi Barrea, Nicola Balato, Carolina Di Somma, Paolo Emidio Macchia, Maddalena Napolitano, Maria Cristina Savanelli, Katherine Esposito, Annamaria Colao, Silvia SavastanoNutrition and psoriasis: is there any association between the severity of the disease and adherence to the Mediterranean diet?J Transl Med.(2015 Jan 27)
  7. ^Adam R Ford, Michael Siegel, Jerry Bagel, Kelly M Cordoro, Amit Garg, Alice Gottlieb, Lawrence J Green, Johann E Gudjonsson, John Koo, Mark Lebwohl, Wilson Liao, Arthur M Mandelin 2nd, Joseph A Markenson, Nehal Mehta, Joseph F Merola, Ronald Prussick, Caitriona Ryan, Sergio Schwartzman, Evan L Siegel, Abby S Van Voorhees, Jashin J Wu, April W ArmstrongDietary Recommendations for Adults With Psoriasis or Psoriatic Arthritis From the Medical Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation: A Systematic ReviewJAMA Dermatol.(2018 Aug 1)
  8. ^Frank Peinemann, Marco Harari, Sandra Peternel, Thalia Chan, David Chan, Alexander M Labeit, Thilo GambichlerIndoor salt water baths followed by artificial ultraviolet B light for chronic plaque psoriasisCochrane Database Syst Rev.(2020 May 5)
  9. ^A Caresse Gamret, Alexandra Price, Raymond M Fertig, Hadar Lev-Tov, Anna J NicholsComplementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies for Psoriasis: A Systematic ReviewJAMA Dermatol.(2018 Nov 1)
Examine Database References
  1. Zinc - Sadeghian G, Ziaei H, Nilforoushzadeh MATreatment of localized psoriasis with a topical formulation of zinc pyrithioneActa Dermatovenerol Alp Panonica Adriat.(2011)
  2. Phlebodium aureum - Padilla HC, Laínez H, Pacheco JAA new agent (hydrophilic fraction of polypodium leucotomos) for management of psoriasisInt J Dermatol.(1974 Sep-Oct)
  3. Inositol - Allan SJ, Kavanagh GM, Herd RM, Savin JAThe effect of inositol supplements on the psoriasis of patients taking lithium: a randomized, placebo-controlled trialBr J Dermatol.(2004 May)