Frequently Asked Questions About Psoriasis

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

A few weeks ago, HealthCentral hosted a tweetchat on psoriasis. (You can catch HelathCentral's weekly Tweetchats on Wednesday evening, from 8PM until 9PM (Eastern time) at #HealthTipsChat ) The following are some of the questions asked during the chat with brief answers and links for additional information:

How does your psoriasis affect your day-to-day life?

Psoriasis can affect every aspect of your life. Flare-ups may disrupt your ability to focus at school or work, impacting your financial situation. You may find yourself avoiding going outside during flare-ups, impacting your relationships and your self-esteem. Having psoriasis increases your risk of developing depression. Reducing the stress in your life, however, has been found to reduce the risk of flare-ups.

For more information:

Living with Psoriasis, but Comfortable in My Skin

Does it ever go away on its own?

Psoriasis is a lifelong condition. Some people do experience periods of weeks, months or years without a flare-up. When flare-ups aren't present for a long time, it is called remission. Psoriasis may also follow certain cycles, such as becoming worse in the cold weather and lessen during the heat of the summer.

What tips would you give someone just diagnosed with psoriasis?

If you have just been diagnosed with psoriasis, it is important to find a dermatologist who specializes in psoriasis. You also want to learn about this disease and find out what your treatment options are. You also want to learn about common psoriasis triggers, such as certain medications, so you can make changes in your life, if necessary.

Other tips include taking warm showers instead of hot, decreasing the time you spend in the shower, using moisturizers and keeping track of flare-ups to understand your personal triggers.

For more information:

10 Tips for Those Newly Diagnosed with Psoriasis

Is psoriasis hereditary?

While the exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, family history plays an important role. Researchers know that it runs in families. Not every child born into a family with a history of psoriasis will develop the disease, but their chances of developing it are higher.

For more information:

Are You at Risk for Psoriasis?

What are some common triggers for psoriasis?

Because each person is different, their triggers may be different. However, there are some common triggers you should be aware of: alcohol, sunburn, cuts and scrapes, cold weather, stress, certain medications, infections.

For more information:

Psoriasis Triggers

Does psoriasis occur in the same location? hands? elbow? etc.

Psoriasis most often occurs on the scalp, knees, elbows and torso. That doesn't mean you can't have it on other parts of the body, psoriasis can appear anywhere. It often appears symmetrically, meaning it will appear at the same location on both sides of your body.

How do doctors diagnosis psoriasis?

Psoriasis is usually diagnosed after a visual examination of your plaques or lesions. If your doctor or other medical professional isn't sure, he or she may examine some skin tissue under a microscope.

What is the difference between psoriasis and eczema?

While the symptoms of psoriasis and eczema are both red, itchy rashes, there are several differences. Dr. Green explains: "Psoriasis usually starts in teenage years or later, while eczema starts in childhood. Psoriasis is usually on the scalp, elbows, and knees (although it can be anywhere), while eczema is usually in the creases of skin, like the neck, or eyelids, or creases in the arm and leg opposite the elbows and knees. Also, psoriasis is usually thicker and has bigger scales of skin shedding then eczema."

For more information:

Is it Eczema or Psoriasis? A Dermatologist Explains the Similarities and Differences

Does psoriasis put you at risk for other health conditions?

In the past few years, research has shown that those with psoriasis are at an increased risk of developing additional medical conditions. A study released in 2008 showed that those with severe psoriasis were at a higher risk of developing psoriatic arthritis, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, depression, obesity and even other immune-related conditions such as Crohn's disease.

For more information:

Psoriasis and Associated Health Risks

What are natural treatments for psoriasis?

It is always best to see a dermatologist for treatment of psoriasis. However, there are some things you can do at home to help relieve some of the symptoms: apply moisturizer daily, use a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air, change to soaps and laundry products without dyes or perfumes, take warm, not hot baths or showers.

For more information:

Psoriasis Management: What Your Dermatologist Wishes You Knew

What are the biggest misconceptions about psoriasis?

Unfortunately there are many misconceptions and myths surrounding psoriasis. Some of the most common include: psoriasis is caused by poor hygiene, it is contagious, there is no effective treatment, it is a cosmetic condition.

For more information:

8 Myths About Psoriasis

Is it true that meditation techniques can help?

A number of studies have shown a link between stress and psoriasis and for many people stressful situations are a major trigger for flare-ups. Living with psoriasis can also be stressful, so a cycle can develop - with the more stress the worse the symptoms. Meditation, yoga, exercise and other stress reducing strategies can help lessen the amount and severity of flare-ups.

For more information:

The Link Between Stress and Psoriasis

Are there foods that make psoriasis better or worse? What are they?

Some people have found that diets rich in foods that fight inflammation can help reduce flare-ups. Some of these foods include: fruits and vegetables, foods with omega-3 fatty acids (fish, fish oil supplements, walnuts), whole grains, lean protein (reduce amount of red meat), and spices such as ginger and curry.

For more information:

Psoriasis Management: What Your Dermatologist Wishes You Knew

Are there certain medications that can cause flare ups?

Some medications are known to cause flare-ups in some people. These include beta-blockers (medications for high blood pressure), lithium (prescribed for bipolar disorder), anti-malarials and interferons (used to treat hepatitis C). You should always talk with your doctors about your psoriasis before taking any prescribed medications. Your doctor can work with you to treat any medical conditions while not increasing your risk for flare-ups.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.