What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common chronic skin disease affecting upwards of 1% of the Canadian population. It is an immune-mediated disease that causes the skin cells to grow too quickly. The body is unable to shed these skin cells, causing them to accumulate on the surface of the skin. Psoriasis may also affect the nails of the hands and feet and how they look and feel. In some cases, psoriasis can cause pitted and deformed nails that are thickened and discoloured and that sometimes separate from the nail bed.
Psoriasis commonly affects the scalp. Psoriasis of the scalp can cause scaly patches, flaking and itching. Inflammation from psoriasis, scratching, harsh treatments and the psychological stress from the disease can also lead to temporary hair loss. Psoriasis can affect the joints of the body, resulting in inflammation, pain, loss of mobility and potentially permanent damage.
There are a wide variety of topical, systemic and light based therapies available to effectively and safely treat the different types of psoriasis. It is important that the correct diagnosis of psoriasis be made early on in the course of the condition so that the patient can be treated appropriately and in a timely manner. Patients with this disease would benefit from early assessments and treatment from a dermatologist. A dermatologist is an accredited skin specialist who is trained on the assessment and diagnosis of psoriasis in addition to being skilled in the administration of the most up-to-date treatment options.