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Plaque Psoriasis

Plaque Psoriasis

Plaque Psoriasis

Plaque psoriasis is an autoimmune condition causing thick patches, or plaques, to form on the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body, including the scalp. This type of psoriasis is the most common and involves inflamed, raised, and scaly patches, often causing pain and itching. While there is no known cure for plaque psoriasis, symptoms from this skin condition can be managed through clinical skin care treatments and therapies. Early treatment is the best option for identifying and pursuing an effective treatment plan that addresses your individual needs. Our Gainesville dermatologists with Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery offer the highest level of patient care in a state-of-the-art facility.

Contact our office today to schedule a dermatologist appointment and to learn more about our available treatments for different skin conditions.

What Is Plaque Psoriasis?

Plaque psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris) is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the cells to reproduce rapidly. This psoriasis type causes thick, scaly patches to develop on the skin. Plaque psoriasis can occur anywhere, though it most commonly affects the elbows, back, knees, and scalp. Severe plaque psoriasis may affect the entire body, including the face, feet, genitals, hands, and legs. Plaque psoriasis is the most common type, affecting millions of adults worldwide. The vast majority of people with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about 80 to 90 percent of people living with psoriasis experience plaque psoriasis.

What Causes Plaque Psoriasis?

Plaque psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, meaning the primary plaque psoriasis cause is an immune system problem. In people with plaque psoriasis, their immune system responds and overreacts, which causes inflammation, resulting in new skin cells that grow faster than average. For those with plaque psoriasis, their cells grow and move to the skin’s surface every 3 or 4 days, which causes a significant amount of build-up of dead skin cells. This buildup of skin cells replacing old cells creates plaques. Among the main plaque psoriasis causes, this condition may be genetic, meaning parents may pass this condition down to their children.

What Triggers Plaque Psoriasis?

Plaque psoriasis flare-ups vary from person to person, and it's unknown what causes them. Plaque psoriasis is not contagious, meaning you cannot spread this condition to another person through any means, such as skin-to-skin contact or unprotected sex. Common plaque psoriasis triggers may include the following. 

  • Certain foods and beverages
  • Certain prescription medications
  • Dry, irritated skin
  • Emotional stress 
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Skin injuries
  • Sun damage

What Are The Symptoms Of Plaque Psoriasis?

Symptoms of this condition vary from patient to patient. In general, plaque psoriasis symptoms include plaques on the skin appearing as raised, inflamed, and itchy, painful scaly patches. On Caucasian skin, plaques usually develop as raised, red patches with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells or scales on the surface. 

On darker skin, the plaques can appear as dark and thickened lesions with a purple, gray, or deep brown color. Plaques can occur anywhere on the body with skin, though they commonly develop on the scalp, knees, torso, and elbows. They often develop symmetrically on the body, affecting the same areas on the right and left sides. 

In some cases, plaque psoriasis can accompany nail psoriasis, which may appear as nail discoloration, pitting, or separation from the nail bed. Other manifestations of plaque psoriasis can include pruritus (intense itching), nail psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, a variant of psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis. Signs and symptoms of psoriatic plaques can include the following. 

  • Raised, thickened, and easily palpable lesions
  • Patches that are irregular or oval 
  • Lesions that are several centimeters in size
  • Well-defined patches with defined boundaries
  • Plaques with very distinctive coloring
  • Plaques with a dry, silver-white, or purple-to-brown scale
  • One or multiple plaques appearing at once
  • Plaques that are distributed symmetrically over the body
  • Lesions on the scalp, trunk, limbs, and elbows
  • Irritation or pain, itchiness, bleeding, cracked, and discolored plaques

Who Is At Risk For Plaque Psoriasis?

Any person can develop plaque psoriasis. However, you may be more likely to develop plaque psoriasis if the following applies to you. To better understand and determine your risk for this condition, please contact Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery.

  • Are white
  • Drink alcohol
  • Experience depression
  • Experience stress
  • Have a family history of psoriasis
  • Have obesity

Types Of Plaque Psoriasis

There are different plaque psoriasis types. Each type features different characteristics that help dermatologists distinguish one from another.

Small Plaque Psoriasis

Small plaque psoriasis causes little skin lesions to appear, each no larger than a few centimeters. Each plaque can remain separate or can merge into one large plaque. The crusty covering on the plaque’s surface is pink with a fine grain and thinner crusts than in large plaque psoriasis. Small plaque psoriasis can occur at any age, though it is more common in adults over 40. This type of psoriasis is less likely to be due to genetic factors.

Large Plaque Psoriasis

In large plaque psoriasis, the lesions are thicker and often larger, with more well-defined edges than in small plaque psoriasis. Rather than a pink color, the crusty areas are red and feature a white-silver scale. Large plaque psoriasis can occur at any age, though it is more common in people younger than 40. Some research links this condition with metabolic syndrome, where there is a combination of obesity, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. It is typically more difficult to treat than small plaque psoriasis and is more likely to have genetic factors.

Unstable Plaque Psoriasis

In unstable plaque psoriasis, also called unstable psoriasis, the psoriatic plaque loses its defined shape as they grow larger and sometimes joins into one big lesion. With this condition, new plaques can appear after the initial lesions appear and merge. Contact us for more information about unstable plaque psoriasis.

Chronic, Stable Plaque Psoriasis

Chronic plaque psoriasis is the most common form of plaque psoriasis. Following the initial outbreak, lesions tend to stick around or reemerge on the body. The most common areas of the body affected by this psoriasis are the elbows, knees, torso, head, and scalp, though it can affect other areas. Plaques tend to emerge on both sides of the body. If they appear on one knee, for example, they will appear on the other. If they show up on one knee, for example, they will also appear on the other knee.

How Is Plaque Psoriasis Diagnosed?

Your dermatologist will examine your affected areas to determine your plaque psoriasis diagnosis. This is typically performed during a physical examination where the dermatologist observes the body and skin. They will also ask about your symptoms, family history, and if you have recently started or stopped a product or medication before your most recent flare-up. Several tests may be performed to rule out other conditions that can cause plaques, such as eczema or dermatitis. These tests can include the following.

  • Allergy tests
  • Biopsy of the affected skin
  • Diagnostic blood tests

How Is Plaque Psoriasis Treated?

There is no known cure for plaque psoriasis. You may experience flare-ups and times when the plaques are in remission. The primary goal of plaque psoriasis treatment is to provide you with relief from your symptoms. The treatment ideal for your plaque psoriasis will depend on a number of factors unique to your skin, your family history, and health requirements, among other factors individual to you. 

In general, dermatologists may prescribe a cream, lotion, gel, or more to treat mild-to-moderate cases of plaque psoriasis.

  • Anthralin
  • Coal tar
  • Corticosteroids
  • Salicylic Acid

In cases of more severe or widespread plaque psoriasis, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication injections, oral medications, and/or phototherapy sessions to help treat the symptoms of plaque psoriasis.

Plaque Psoriasis Home Remedies

There are several home remedies to help control your plaque psoriasis symptoms. While home remedies may be helpful to many people, you should check with your healthcare provider prior to trying the following options. Contact Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery for additional information and to schedule an appointment for treatment.

  • Over-the-counter antihistamines for severe itching
  • Bathe or shower in cool-to-lukewarm (not hot) water
  • Limit the amount of time you spend in water to under 15 minutes
  • Use dermatologist-recommended skin care products
  • Avoid products with perfumes, dyes, and alcohol
  • Moisturize your skin multiple times daily using a dermatologist-approved cream, ointment, or other topical medication, including after you shower or bathe.