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