Psoriasis: Symptoms and Relief

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disease that causes patches on the skin. It is not a contagious disease. People with this disease have an immune system that generates new skin cells rapidly, causing patchy buildups of those extra cells. The most common places that psoriasis patients get these patches are on the knees, elbows, lower back, hands, and feet.


Not all people with psoriasis experience the disease in the same way. Some may experience patches on the skin, which can range in size, and others may experience problems with their fingernails and toenails.

  • Plaque Psoriasis: This is the most common form of psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis causes patches of inflamed red skin that is covered by extra skin cells and look silver and scaly.
  • Nail Psoriasis: This form of psoriasis affects the fingernail and toenails. It can cause nail discoloration, flaking, detachment of the nail from the nail bed, and in severe cases, crumbling of the nail.
  • Scalp Psoriasis: Scalp Psoriasis causes similar symptoms as plaque psoriasis, but the patches occur on the scalp and around the hairline.
  • Guttate Psoriasis: Although most forms of psoriasis affect adults, guttate psoriasis primarily affects children and young people. This form of psoriasis is caused from common bacterial infections and causes sores on the torso, limbs and scalp that typically go away on their own.

Treatment and Relief

  • Topical Treatments: Topical treatments might include corticosteroids, retinoids, moisturizers, salicylic acid, and others. Topical treatments are typically used to treat those who have more mild forms of psoriasis.
  • Oral and injectable medications
  • Phototherapy: Phototherapy is a treatment that uses light to ease symptoms. For some people, limited amounts of direct sunlight help relieve symptoms. Other forms of phototherapy include UVB and UVA treatments done under the direct supervision of the patient’s doctor.
  • Oral and injectable medications: These types of medications are not typically used as a first resort to treat psoriasis. Instead, this treatment path is reserved for those who have severe symptoms and/or have not responded well to other treatments.


Jaime Venditti, State Coordinator, New York Health Works