Plaque Psoriasis: The Most Common Type of Psoriasis

There are different types of psoriasis named depending on the part of the body that is affected. About 90% of people with psoriasis suffer with plaque psoriasis, which makes it the most common type of psoriasis.

Symptoms

Plaque psoriasis is made up of red, raised and scaly skin which has a silvery-white appearance. The patches are often inflamed and may itch or burn. The most commonly affected areas are elbows and knees, although it can affect other areas such as scalp, hairline and lower back. The patches are oval in shape, which is why it is called plaque psoriasis. The plaques can vary in size. You can have one or more patches at any one time and often plaques merge together forming larger affected areas. The plaques can sometimes have an area around them that looks like a ring.

Diagnosis

Plaque psoriasis is diagnosed mainly by its typical appearance. It can sometimes be confused with ringworm or eczema, and when the diagnosis is uncertain, a skin biopsy will confirm the diagnosis.

Causes

Plaque psoriasis is not a contagious disease. It's generally thought that it stems from a disorder of the immune system which causes the skin cells to grow faster than normal and to pile up in raised patches on the outer surface of the skin. It also seems that those with a family history of psoriasis have an increased likelihood of having the disease themselves. Some people carry the genes that make them more likely to develop psoriasis, and if both parents have psoriasis, the child may have a 50% chance of developing it.

Trigger Factors 

If you have plaque psoriasis, certain factors can affect how often the psoriasis occurs and how long a flare-up lasts for. These include: rubbing or scratching your skin which can cause new plaques; particular drugs such as beta blockers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; smoking; alcohol; stress and HIV infection. Even though sunlight can improve plaque psoriasis, in some people it can aggravate the condition.

Plaque psoriasis can affect children as well as adults and there's no difference as far as gender goes, both women and men being affected equally by this disease. Females, however, do tend to develop plaque psoriasis earlier than is the case with men. It occurs most commonly in people aged between 16-22 years and again in people aged between 57-60 years.

Plaque psoriasis affects people of all races, although there is evidence to suggest that people living in Scandinavia as well as in the Western European countries are more prone to developing this condition when compared with people in other parts of the world.

Treatments

There are many types of treatment for plaque psoriasis including the use of steroids, drugs that suppress the immune system, topical creams and ointments, phototherapy and even natural sunlight. There is no definitive cure for plaque psoriasis. The best that can be hoped for is a period of remission when the disease calms down and reduces in the area covered or in intensity.