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Plaque Psoriasis – Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Updated on December 19, 2013

Psoriasis is a genetic disorder that has the potential to cause immune system dysfunction and abnormally affect various parts of the body. One of the most visible symptoms of psoriasis is inflamed, raised skin known as plaque. Plaque refers to reddish, scaly skin which typically affects the elbows, scalp, and knees. Plaque psoriasis affects about two to three percent of the population in the United States.

Symptoms of Plaque Psoriasis

Some of the signs and symptoms of plaque psoriasis are listed below:

  • Patients will elicit typical cutaneous, scaly, tiny, reddish bumps.
  • Such elevations often combine together to form raised plaques of skin.
  • The skin abnormalities are generally noticeable on the knees, elbows, and scalp. It is also possible for other parts of the body and skin to be affected by plaque psoriasis
  • The skin anomalies can result in itchiness
  • In rare case, a majority of the skin surface experiences plaque psoriasis

It may be noted that individuals affected by psoriasis are at increased risk to developing diabetes, obesity, premature cardiovascular disease, and destructive arthritis.

When to seek medical advice

After a patient experiences the symptoms of plaque psoriasis, he/she has to seek medical attention to confirm the diagnosis of the condition. The doctor will then suggest all possible treatment options, as well as guidelines to minimize the complications arising from the condition. Individuals affected by mild cases of plaque psoriasis can find relief with the use of over the counter drugs.

Patients affected by severe cases of plaque psoriasis are most likely to suffer from wide-ranging and debilitating effects of the disease. In such cases, doctors will recommend a diverse range of treatment options which can alleviate the many manifestations of plaque psoriasis.

Causes of Plaque Psoriasis

As is the case with other kinds of disorders, plaque psoriasis also exhibits a considerable amount of interplay between environmental and genetic factors as its cause.

The pathway for the disease is laid down by some kinds of genetic mutation. It is understood than multiple number of mutations in multiple types of genes are necessary to the formation of plaque psoriasis.

After the defective genes are passed on to the child, the presence of certain kinds of environmental facts will trigger the onset of the disease. These factors can be a simple injury, or some types of common bacterial or viral infections.

Diagnosis of Plaque Psoriasis

Most health care providers and dermatologists are generally able to diagnose plaque psoriasis simply by checking for three major criteria, i.e. the tendency to develop plaque, the appearance of skin abnormalities, and the scattering of plaque on the scalp, knees, and elbows. Plaque psoriasis can also effect a single or multiple nails on the toes and finger, leading to abnormalities which look like fungal infections.The disease rare affects the mouth or lips.

Sometimes, atypical cases of plaque psoriasis may need a biopsy to supplement the clinical diagnosis. A biopsy involves surgical removal of a tiny piece of skin affected by plaque psoriasis, and its examination under a microscope.

Blood tests are not necessary as they are usually not helpful in confirming the diagnosis.

Treatment of Plaque Psoriasis

There is no known cure for plaque psoriasis. However, the symptoms of the disease can be managed with medications and other treatment options. It may be noted that the disease experiences regular episodes of remission, flare-ups, and complications, which often occur at the same time. Most patients recount that such changes in the disease’s activity are often preceded by psychological stress or an environmental event. Such occurrences tend to make treatment of plaque psoriasis quite difficult.

As plaque psoriasis cannot be cured, doctors focus on enhancing the independence and well-being of the patient. Doctors will recommend treatment options according to the severity of the disease. Localized and mild instances of plaque psoriasis are treated with topical medications, while widespread and extreme cases will need expensive, systemic, and potentially dangerous treatment.

Some of the treatment options for plaque psoriasis are listed below:

  • A number of topical prescription drugs can be used to treat plaque psoriasis. Such medications are composed of tar, topical steroids in varied potency, and vitamin D-like elements.
  • System therapies for plaque psoriasis include temporary dosage of cyclosporine therapy for extreme flare-ups; vitamin A-like drug acitretin; and methotrexate.
  • Another effective treatment option for plaque psoriasis is the administration of UV light at varied wavelengths under controlled conditions in a clinic. It may be given with or without additional medications. Examples of UV therapy include PUVA and narrow-band UVB
  • Biologics are new and costly drugs that specially target the abnormalities in the skin. They are more efficient as compared to the immunosuppressive drugs.

It is important to note that all the above listed treatment options have to be continued for the lifetime of a patient. If the treatment is stopped, then plaque psoriasis is most likely to recur.

Plaque Psoriasis Pictures

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