Psoriasis is an inflammatory disorder in which a flaw within the body triggers the development of new skin cells more quickly than is usual. Psoriasis often manifests itself as patches of red, inflamed, and bumpy skin at different sites over the body.

People with psoriasis often feel embarrassed by the appearance of their skin and try to keep the affected areas covered with make-up or clothing. In many cases, certain types of clothing and social activities – such as bathing suits and swimming – are avoided. In addition to the emotional ramifications, psoriasis can be uncomfortable—even painful, if the skin cracks.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a long term, inflammatory skin condition involving the abnormally rapid growth of skin cells. While the usual cycle of growth is 28 to 30 days, in psoriasis a flaw in the immune system signals skin cells to grow in a few days. Excess dead skin piles up.

Psoriasis usually appears on the knees, elbows, lower back, legs and scalp.  The skin may be itchy, dry, and painful and may crack and bleed.  It can also cause broken, crumbling or detached nails.

Types of Psoriasis

  • Plaque – affects most patients, red, raised areas – covered in silvery or white, flaking scale or plaques may enlarge, or thicken
  • Guttate – many small red spots scattered over the body
  • Pustular – pus-filled spots on hands, feet
  • Inverse – in skin folds, red, raw skin
  • Erythrodermic – uncommon, looks like a widespread sunburn

What are the Causes of Psoriasis?

  • Faulty immune system
  • Genes


  • Infection
  • Skin injury – a burn or cut
  • Medications
  • Stress

Who is Affected by Psoriasis?

  • 1 million Canadians (2)
  • Family members of those with psoriasis (3)
  • Mostly adults (4)
  • Men, women, all races (5)

Related Problems

  • embarrassment, depression, sleep problems, work absence
  • up to 30% of psoriasis patients have or will develop arthritis (1)
  • physical disability
  • increased risk for heart disease, diabetes

Potential Treatments for Psoriasis

  • Prescription medications – corticosteroids, topical salicylic acid, immunosuppressant drugs, synthetic vitamin D, retinoids, methotrexate, biologics
  • Over-the-counter – shampoos, Tar preparations
  • Procedures – ultraviolet light therapy

Note: Certain treatments for medical conditions considered to be elective and/or cosmetic are not covered by Medical Services Plan of BC

If you require help in managing your psoriasis, contact our clinic for an appointment with a dermatologist.

Patient resources
Canadian Dermatology Association
Canadian Association of Psoriasis Patients
(1-5) Canadian Dermatology Association

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