Psoriasis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


Balance is the most vital of needs in any given situation. The human body is a great example where this fact applies. In all activities within the human body, all systems and organs function at a specific rate and intensity, and any imbalance in this can have adverse reactions, even if it is under or over-activity. Psoriasis is one of the primary examples of such negative results.

This is a skin condition that occurs because of the over-activity of your immune system. It is characteristically known by the flaky presence of dead skin that persistently builds upon the surface of our skin. It is a chronic, common skin condition experienced by people all around the world.

How does psoriasis start?

An overactive immune system is the primary culprit for kick-starting the symptoms of psoriasis. It ramps up the life cycle of skin cells and increases the skin cell production rate.

With such excessive production of skin cells, there is lesser and lesser space on the surface to accommodate it all. This begins the quick build-up of dead skin cells on your skin, made visible as flaky plaques of dead skin.

What does psoriasis look like?

Psoriasis starts as flaky, dry skin accompanied by itching, inflammation, and redness. In more extreme cases, these regions are even known to crack and bleed.

Psoriasis often shows up in regions in the body prone to dryness like the elbows, knees, and scalp. Additionally, for people with a naturally dry skin type, this may very well spread to other less common regions like their torso and chest.

Common forms of psoriasis include:

Plaque psoriasis: 

This is when scales and plaques of red skin and silvery flakes of dead skin form on the surface. These can even form painful lesions, prone to bleeding and itching.

Once they start forming, they are notorious for spreading and covering more expansive areas. When it begins around the nails, it is customary to see a range of discolouration around the nail and nail bed.

Erythrodermic psoriasis:

This is one form of psoriasis that is a trigger reaction caused by a systemic psoriasis treatment or sunburn cases left untreated. It is a far more extreme version of psoriasis.

And it is characteristically identified by a harsh redness of the skin and significant amounts of shedding of dead scaly skin cells.

Guttate psoriasis:

This type of psoriasis is distinguishable through the pink bumps that appear across the skin region affected by it. So, there is often a combination of scaly skin and bumps all over the area. Although not contagious, it is capable of spreading if not treated appropriately.

Streptococcal infection (such as strep throat or a sore throat) is sometimes seen as a trigger for guttate psoriasis, especially in people who have a genetic history of psoriasis in their family.

Pustular Psoriasis:

This is a more rare form of psoriasis, but it is more severe in appearance. Pustules made up of white blood cells show up in the region where psoriasis is rampant. They appear to pepper the skin with a plaque and are sensitive to touch.

They are usually surrounded by redness and can appear anytime while the skin condition is prevalent. Men or boys are known to be afflicted with this more than women.

Inverse psoriasis:

As the name suggests, this is one of the rarer forms of psoriasis, which, instead of forming protruding bumps or flaky plaque skin, creates extra smooth and shiny flexural forms.

It is mainly known to show up in the folded regions of the body like the armpits, elbows, and even the buttocks. Naturally oily skinned people tend to suffer from this more because it starts with redness and itching.

When the development of dry skin cells is restricted by any retained moisture, it forms a shiny and smooth exterior. This makes it more tender and painful than most forms of psoriasis. But the treatment for this is similar to typical psoriasis, which is mentioned below.

Is psoriasis an autoimmune disease?

Apart from being a notoriously common skin condition, psoriasis is, in fact, an autoimmune disease. In general, these are a group of diseases capable of misguiding the immune system in some way. This may make it react with an unpredictable outcome, which may cause the body more harm than good.

Our immune systems have a type of cell known as T cells. When triggered incorrectly, they can behave as though they are fighting an infection or asking to heal a wound.

This immediately produces specific chemicals that then cause inflammation. For this particular skin condition, it also causes excessive skin growth through its autoimmune action.

A specific way to see the change in rate would be to know that while normal skin cells are replaced within 28 days, it only takes around six days for people with psoriasis.

Being a chronic and autoimmune disease, it usually tends to flare and wane at different periods of a lifetime and cannot be predicted. The lack of immune regulation is a significant cause of psoriasis’ random appearances, apart from a genetic predisposition.

Is psoriasis a genetic condition?

Being a genetic condition is one of the main characteristics of psoriasis because it is the leading trigger for the disease in a person. If your parents had the condition, it is most likely that you will experience its plight at some point in your life. Because of its autoimmune status, it can affect other functioning parts of the body as well.

What are the signs of psoriasis?

1. One such example is psoriasis arthritis. This is when joints exhibit symptoms of inflammation. At times, people may have no outward signs of psoriasis apart from such joint pain, making it inexplicable for any ordinary person.

It requires consultation with physicians to diagnose this as a sign of psoriasis properly. It is usually the joints in the hands, knees and ankles that suffer from this. However, the onset of this sign of psoriasis happens in the later stages of life, primarily for people post 30 years of age.

2. Another example would be the aforementioned discolouration of nails and nail beds. When the skin condition targets the areas around the hands and fingers, the nails and nail beds change colour.

The treatment for this situation is powerful and challenging to administer. This is because apart from topical steroid-based creams, sometimes medication may need to be regularly applied right at the nail cuticle. This type of psoriasis symptom needs to be tended to by a physician.

Is psoriasis itchy?

With all the symptoms and signs of psoriasis, it is evident that psoriasis would be an itchy skin condition. It is, in fact, one of its most intense traits. It starts to flare up right at the onset of the condition and may increase if left unattended.  Several possible triggers may make the itching worse.

What triggers make psoriasis worse?


Any injuries to the skin become hot spots targeted by the skin disease followed by incessant itching because of the increased risk of being infected. Moreover, emotional stress can also increase our body’s reaction to the condition, making it worse. Stress is generally harmful to our system because it creates an imbalance in our otherwise well-functioning bodies.

Drinking and smoking

Any habits like smoking or alcohol consumption only negatively affect the body, making it more susceptible to the symptoms of psoriasis and disrupting the actions of the immune system. This, in turn, makes the condition worsen.


We may be taking complex medications for other reasons, which could clash with the immune system to trigger its autoimmune characteristic. It is always advisable to consult with your doctor and make them aware of all skin conditions that you may have before they prescribe medical products.

Is psoriasis contagious?

As previously mentioned, although psoriasis has the capability of spreading across the skin in severe cases, it is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from person to person via contact.

It is primarily a genetic condition that is triggered by external conditions and our lifestyle choices. Being an autoimmune disease, it is not capable of influencing people who come in contact with you.

However, substances that you may come in contact with have chances of aggravating the condition, such as harsh chemicals that may further dry the skin out and cause inflammation.

Can psoriasis be cured?

Unfortunately, psoriasis is one of the skin conditions, which cannot be cured entirely yet. However, many solutions have been developed and tested to control the symptoms and worsen the disease.

Someone with a good medical regimen and consistent check-ups with a physician can control their existing psoriasis and lead a normal lifestyle. The most common treatments for psoriasis include topical creams with a steroid content, light therapy and even oral forms of medication.

Treatment for psoriasis symptoms

Topical creams 

Topical creams usually consist of corticosteroids and retinoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties, and may be substituted for natural hormones, which are doing their job due to the autoimmune condition.

However, this needs to be supervised by an expert because too much or reckless application of these medications can lead to the condition getting worse and causing complications in the body.

Prescription medication

As for people with more severe forms of this skin condition, doctors recommend systemic medication where they may be given antibiotic injections and other medicines for a short period. These are adequately measured and timed to help the body fight against the condition.

Light therapy

As for light therapy, to understand how it works against psoriasis, we can look at what sunlight does to our skin. Since rays from the sun, particularly ultraviolet rays, damage and kill cells in our skin, light therapy uses artificial UV light to target white blood cells and kill them.

These are the overactive white blood cells that cause psoriasis by attacking the healthy normal skin. This happens primarily because of psoriasis’ state as an autoimmune condition. Our body’s immediate reaction to the threat of an infection is the production of white blood cells. So these become the reason for psoriasis when white blood cells are overproduced with no use.

The silver lining

Psoriasis is a skin disease that is quite common nowadays, and we hope this article helps solve the many misconceptions that people previously held. With proper treatment and correct diagnosis, any form of psoriasis can be controlled.


1. Will psoriasis go away?

While there is no medical cure for this condition, it is possible that psoriasis can disappear on its own if your body goes into remission. But this is rare.

2. What happens if you don’t treat psoriasis?

Psoriasis can spread to other parts of your body and lead to more severe conditions like psoriasis arthritis.

3. Can psoriasis spread by scratching?

No, it cannot spread to other parts of your body by scratching it.

4. How can I boost my immune system to fight psoriasis?

You can do things like eat healthy, exercise regularly and reduce your stress levels to help your body fight psoriasis.

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Chaitra K

I’m a Skin Care Enthusiast from Bangalore, a writer here @CureSkin teamed up with Expert Dermatologists to spread awareness on the right kind of skin and hair care for men and women. Inspiring people to explore the skin and hair care that suits their need and help them look and feel beautiful is my full-time job. Skin & hair problems affect every person's self-esteem and confidence. Hence I love helping people by giving them the best information about skin and hair health with my writing, driven by the BEST Dermatologists.