Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, known collectively as psoriatic diseases, have a worldwide impact and a large presence in the United States.  Two to three percent of the world’s population is estimated to be living with psoriasis. Of the 125 million in that number, eight million are Americans. Research shows that between ten percent and thirty percent with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis.

The Differences in the Psoriatic Diseases

Psoriasis is a common, chronic, and recurrent inflammatory disease of the skin characterized by round, reddish, dry scaling patches covered by grayish white or silvery white scales. The lesions are most commonly found on the nails, scalp, elbows, shins and feet. Psoriasis can be difficult to distinguish from Athlete’s foot, and the nail appearance may be confused with fungal infections of the toenails.

Psoriasis can cause a characteristic pitting appearance on the nails. Pustular psoriasis is a form of the disease characterized by small pustules or blisters filled with clear or cloudy fluid, and can mimic acute Athlete’s foot. 

Usually is detected between the ages of ten and thirty-five, psoriasis cases appear in all age groups.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) causes inflammation in joints and irritates the intersection of tendons and ligaments to bones. Created by an imbalanced immune system, fatigue, swelling, pain and stiffness in the joints will be experienced. Additionally, swollen fingers and toes, a reduced range of motion, sickness and a feeling of being tired in the mornings may occur. Without treatment, PsA can result in permanent joint damage. Most cases appear in people between the ages of thirty and fifty but it can be found in those of any age.

Because symptoms of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can be similar to other conditions, the patient may be referred to a specialist.


Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition. That means the body’s immune system is overactive and, with psoriasis, the growth cycle of skin cells is accelerated. The genes that create it are usually inherited. Among the common misconceptions about the condition is that it can be transmitted through contact. In fact, it is not contagious and cannot be transmitted through touching skin, swimming with someone who has it or similar activities.


While each case of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis is unique to the individual, common triggers have been identified. They may include stress, a skin injury, an infection, heavy drinking and tobacco use. Cold, dry weather and some medications may also trigger psoriasis. Among triggering infections, strep throat is frequently linked to the recurrence of psoriasis.

Certain medications have been known to be present in the body when psoriasis occurs. They include lithium, used to treat depression. Antimalarial medications linked to flair-ups include Plaquenil, Quinocrine and chloroquine. 


Because of the individual nature of each case of psoriasis, a treatment effective in one individual may not work for another. Among the available treatments include biologics, usually prescribed for moderate to severe psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis. Biologics are administered via injection or intravenously. 

Systemic medications that work throughout the body may also be prescribed for moderate to severe cases. These are taken orally or by injection.

Regular exposure of the skin to ultraviolet light may also be utilized. This phototherapy is done in a physician’s office or clinic. Consistency is of utmost importance for this treatment to succeed.

There have also been more recent developments in psoriasis medicines taken orally. Molecules within immune cells are targeted through the uses of these medications. There may be some side effects including weight decrease, depression or blood count issues. Liver enzyme numbers and lipid levels could also vary with these medicines, so communication with the physician during treatment is extremely important.

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