Severe Psoriasis

What is Severe Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune skin disorder. It most commonly affects the outside of the elbows, knees or scalp, though it can appear on any location. It generally appears as red patches or lesions covered with white scales. It is not contagious. Severe psoriasis is classified as moderate to severe, depending on which body parts are affected and the extent of skin coverage.

Causes of Severe Psoriasis

The exact cause of psoriasis is still unknown. It is believed that a combination of factors may be involved, including genetics and environmental triggers, such as stress or an infection. Certain medications may also trigger psoriasis.

Symptoms of Severe Psoriasis

The most common symptoms of severe psoriasis are:

  • Red patches or lesions of skin, with silvery white scales.
  • Thickened, cracked, and itchy skin.
  • Burning or soreness around the affected areas.
  • Swollen or stiff joints.
  • Changes in fingernails and toenails.

Diagnosis of Severe Psoriasis

Severe psoriasis is usually diagnosed by a physical examination. Your doctor may also order blood tests and biopsies to rule out other conditions. Once your doctor has determined that you have psoriasis, they may refer you to a dermatologist for further evaluation and treatment.

Treatment of Severe Psoriasis

Treatment for severe psoriasis may include the following:

  • Oral medications such as methotrexate, cyclosporine, and acitretin.
  • Topical treatments, including corticosteroids, vitamin D3 analogs, and topical retinoids.
  • Phototherapy, or light therapy.
  • Biologic treatments, which are injections or infusions of proteins that target specific proteins in the immune system.
  • Surgery. In severe cases, a doctor may recommend surgery to remove psoriatic lesions.

Prevention of Severe Psoriasis

There is no known way to prevent severe psoriasis, but there are treatments and lifestyle modifications that can help lessen the symptoms. These include:

  • Limiting sun exposure.
  • Avoiding certain medications that may trigger symptoms.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Managing stress.
  • Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.
  • Exercising regularly.