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How will I know if I have psoriasis?

A chronic disease affecting up to 7.5 million Americans, psoriasis causes the skin to become inflamed with red, thickened areas that become covered with flaky, silvery scales.

The condition is not contagious, and the ultimate cause is not known, although it is thought to be an immunologic genetic disorder. Because of this immune stimulation, the uppermost layer of skin cells multiplies at an accelerated rate. A normal epidermis is replenished about every 28 days, but psoriasis causes the skin cells to multiply so quickly that they replenish every two to four days. This new skin grows so fast the cells don't have a chance to slough normally.

Psoriasis typically appears on elbows, knees and scalp, but it can also arise on your lower back, buttocks, palms, soles and genital region. Psoriasis can occur in areas of trauma such as severe sunburns or surgical scars.

Psoriasis may be associated with a specific type of arthritis, known as psoriatic arthritis. Lesions can be triggered by stress, infection, climate changes and medications. There is no cure for this condition, but treatments can reduce skin inflammation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.