Psoriasis is a common skin disorder that is often inherited. About 4% of the U.S. population has psoriasis. References are made to “the heartbreak of psoriasis” because the condition is often lifelong. Treatments can help control the disorder, but not cure it. If treatments are stopped, the condition often recurs.
The rash of psoriasis is characterized by round, coin-sized, inflamed, scaling patches and plaques that can occur anywhere on the body. The most common areas of involvement are the scalp, elbows, knees, and hands. The condition is sometimes confused with eczema by patients and doctors alike. The condition may be mild (few spots), moderate (several spots), or severe (many spots throughout the body). 20% of patients with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis affecting one or more joints with pain, stiffness, and swelling. The association of psoriasis with heart disease, obesity, and diabetes has become well established in recent years.