Q: How can I know if I have psoriasis?

A. If you have a skin rash that won’t go away, contact your health care provider. He or she can look at the rash to see if it is psoriasis or another skin condition. Rarely, a small sample of skin is taken to view under a microscope.

Q: What causes psoriasis?

A. The cause of psoriasis is unknown. The condition tends to run in families, so it may be passed on to children by parents.

Psoriasis causes new skin cells to develop too quickly. Normally, skin cells are replaced every 28 to 30 days. In psoriasis, new cells grow and move to the surface of the skin every three to four days. The build up of old cells being replaced by new cells creates the hallmark silvery scales of psoriasis.

Q: What causes psoriasis outbreaks?

A. No one knows what causes psoriasis outbreaks. How serious and how often outbreaks happen varies with each person. Outbreaks may be triggered by:

  • Skin injury (Cuts, scrapes or surgery that requires cutting of the skin, for example.)
  • Emotional stress
  • Streptococcal and other infections
  • Cold, cloudy weather
  • Certain prescription medicines

Q: Can psoriasis be cured?

A. Psoriasis cannot be cured, but treatment greatly reduces symptoms, even in severe cases.

Q: How is psoriasis treated?

A. There are many treatments for psoriasis. Some treatments slow the production of new skin cells while others relieve itching and dry skin. Inflammation in the skin is an important part of psoriasis and many treatments reduce inflammation. Your health care provider will select a treatment plan depending on the seriousness of the rash, where it is on your body, your age, health and other factors.