The signs and symptoms of psoriasis vary depending on the type you have. Some common signs for plaque psoriasis -- the most common type of psoriasis -- include:
Plaques of red, inflamed skin, often covered with loose, silver-colored scales. These plaques may be itchy and painful and sometimes crack and bleed. In severe cases, the plaques will grow and merge into one another, covering large areas.
Disorders of the fingernails and toenails, including discoloration and pitting of the nails. The nails may also begin to crumble or detach from the nail bed.
Scaly plaques on the scalp.
Small areas of bleeding where the involved skin is scratched.
Psoriasis can also be associated with psoriatic arthritis, which causes pain and swelling in the joints. The National Psoriasis Foundation estimates that between 10% and 30% of people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis.
In addition to following your doctor's orders, there's a lot that you can do on your own to help control and prevent flare-ups of psoriasis.
Use moisturizing lotions.
Psoriasis symptoms get worse when your skin is dry, so keep it moist with creams and lotions. Thick and oily moisturizers are often the best, since they're good at trapping moisture beneath the skin. Moisturizers are also useful for removing scales, especially if you use occlusion -- applying moisturizer and...
Bruce E. Strober, MD, PhD, associate director of dermatopharmacology, department of dermatology, New York University School of Medicine; co-director of the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Center; consultant for Amgen, Biogen, Genentech, Fujisawa, and 3M.
Jeffrey M. Weinberg, MD, director of the Clinical Research Center, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York City; assistant clinical professor of dermatology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; consultant for Amgen and Genentech.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
American Academy of Dermatology.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise: "Psoriasis."
American Academy of Dermatology, PsoriasisNet.
National Psoriasis Foundation.
Abel, E. ACP Medicine, April 2005.