Sufferers from this common skin disease can undergo great discomfort and social embarrassment. It can ruin the summer months – psoriasis victims often prefer to keep their bodies under wraps while others are stripping off around them. The condition is not usually itchy but its appearance often makes a sufferer feel very uncomfortable in unfamiliar social situations. Sadly for those affected, psoriasis is a long-term condition with no permanent cure.

Nonetheless, the good news is that individual attacks can be treated and relieved to a large degree. Although the cause of psoriasis is not known, it tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic link. Somewhere in the region of 2 percent of Europeans and Americans contract the disease and it is less common in black and Asian communities. Symptoms usually appear for the first time in those in the 10 to 30 year old age bracket.

Psoriasis sufferers produce new skin cells 10 times faster than normal. This cause the patchy, thickened skin effect which may be covered by silvery scales. Recurrent attacks are often triggered by emotional stress, skin damage, and physical illness. Symptoms are sometimes accompanied by painful swelling and stiffness of the joints, which can be very disabling.

There are several different types of psoriasis, but discoid or “plaque” psoriasis is far and away the most common form. It is distinguished by parches of inflamed, scaly skin on the trunk and limbs, appearing particularly on the elbows, knees, and scalp. Additionally, a sufferer’s nails may become pitted, thickened, or separated from their beds. Gutate psoriasis is the form most frequently found in children: small patches appear rapidly over a wide area, often after the child has had a sore throat.

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