Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of your body, and like all organs it is subject to disease. One common skin problem is psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic, contagious autoimmune disease that appears on the skin. It occurs when the immune system sends out faulty signals that speed up the growth cycle of skin cells.

Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States, affecting as many as 7.5 million Americans. An estimated 125 million people worldwide live with psoriasis.

Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the disease, affecting 80 percent of those with psoriasis. It appears as raised, red patches of skin covered by silvery, white buildup called scale.

Other types of psoriasis:

  •  Guttate: Small dot-like lesions
  •  Pustular: White blisters surrounded by red skin
  •  Inverse: Occurs in armpits, groin and skin folds
  •  Erythrodermic: Intense shedding and redness of skin

Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body, but most frequently occurs on the scalp, knees, elbows and torso. The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown. Genetics and external factors known as “triggers” play a role in the development of the disease. Triggers include: injury to the skin, infections, certain medications

Psoriasis prevalence and statistics :

Psoriasis can appear at any age, but it most commonly occurs between the ages of 15 and 35. Roughly one-third of people with psoriasis develop the disease before age 20.

Each year, roughly 20,000 children under age 10 are diagnosed with psoriasis. The disease rarely appears in infants.

If one parent has psoriasis, there is a 10 percent chance of a child developing it. If both parents have psoriasis, the chance increases to 50 percent.

Impact of psoriasis

  •  People with psoriasis are at increased risk for other health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, heart attack, Crohn’s disease, obesity, high blood pressure and depression.
  •  Psoriasis significantly impacts quality of life. People with psoriasis report feeling self-conscious, embarrassed and helpless, and to have increased thoughts of suicide.
  •  Psoriasis has a greater overall impact for women and minorities than for men.
  •  Women are particularly sensitive to the effect of psoriasis on their appearance. They are 33 percent more likely to alter their clothing choices to conceal their psoriasis.
  •  Women with psoriasis are three times more likely than men to suffer from other chronic diseases, such as lupus and multiple sclerosis.
  •  Many people with psoriasis report trouble sleeping, walking, sitting or standing for long periods of time, as well as difficulty using their hands.
  •  The total cost of psoriasis in the U.S. is estimated at $11.25 billion due to medical expenses and lost wages

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory arthritis that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in and around the joints and tendons. Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis. In 85 percent of people, skin disease precedes psoriatic arthritis. Individuals with mild psoriasis are just as likely to develop psoriatic arthritis as those with moderate to severe forms of the disease. Psoriatic arthritis usually develops between ages 30 and 50, but can affect anyone at any age, including children. If left untreated, psoriatic arthritis can be disabling and cause irreversible joint damage.

Founded in 1968, the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) is the world’s largest nonprofit serving people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Their priority is to provide individuals with the information and services they need to take control of their condition, while increasing research to find a cure. In addition to serving more than 2.1 million people annually through our patient and professional health education and advocacy programs, the NPF is the largest charitable funder of psoriatic disease research worldwide.

Learn more about the National Psoriasis Foundation at psoriasis.org or call 800.723.9166.

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