Chronic plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the condition, is readily identified by its heavily scaled and elevated red plaques covered with distinctive silver scales. However, although key features of psoriasis may be easy to identify, it still needs to be assessed by the family physician or skin specialist (dermatologist) in order to be properly diagnosed and treated.
Psoriasis occurs more commonly than you may think. It is estimated that between one and three percent of people worldwide are affected by this skin condition. Psoriasis affects men and women equally, regardless of socioeconomic status. It can develop at any age, but more commonly appears for the first time between the ages of 15 and 22 years or between the ages of 60 and 69 years. People with this condition may get it for just a few weeks (more common in a type of psoriasis called guttate psoriasis) or, in some, it may last a lifetime, going through periods of wax-and-wane.
Psoriasis is not contagious, which means that it will not spread from one person to another. It tends to run in families. A family history of psoriasis is found in 30% of patients, so if your mother or father has psoriasis, you will have a higher risk of developing it. However, a family history does not help to predict the age at which psoriasis first develops or other things such as how serious it is or the extent of skin involvement.
Although there is no cure for psoriasis, this condition can be well managed through various prevention and treatment measures as well as education and the support of caregivers, family and friends. One main goal of treatment is to slow down the abnormal growth rate of skin cells, which causes the characteristic red, scaly patches. Another important goal of treatment is to prevent flare-ups. But for most people, psoriasis is more emotionally damaging than physically disabling. If you have psoriasis, remember that you're not alone. Turn to friends and family for support, and talk to your doctor or pharmacist about psoriasis and which treatments are suitable for you.
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