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Though you will have psoriasis for life, you don't need to let it control your life. You can take control by learning as much as you can about psoriasis and working with your doctor to create a treatment plan that works.

How Psoriasis Can Affect You

Common psoriasis symptoms include patches of itchy, scaly, and sometimes inflamed skin called plaques. Though they can appear anywhere, you're most likely to get plaques on your:

  • Knees
  • Elbows
  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Scalp
  • Back
  • Belly button

You may also get pits in your fingernails and toenails. About half of people with active psoriasis do. Up to 30% also get psoriatic arthritis, which causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in and around your joints. 

Your symptoms may be very different from someone else's. It depends on how severe your psoriasis is. It may be just a mild nuisance, or it can make your daily life very hard. This is most likely if you have psoriatic arthritis.

For some people, the hardest parts of psoriasis are emotional. If your psoriasis is severe, you may be self-conscious about the way you look. This can make you feel lonely and depressed.  

But you aren't alone. Up to 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis. And although there is no cure, there are treatments that can keep it under control.

What Causes Psoriasis?

Psoriasis seems to run in families. It is caused when your immune system doesn't work the way it should.

Skin cells are always being formed deep beneath the surface of our skin. Over about a month, these cells die and flake off, making way for new skin cells. 

If you have psoriasis, this cell turnover happens in days instead of weeks. Layers of skin build up. Blood flow increases in an attempt to nourish this skin, which leads to redness and swelling. You get reddened, inflamed skin with a whitish, flaky crust of dead cells on top.

Normally, our bodies fight infections and heal injuries with white blood cells. With psoriasis, one type of white blood cell, the B-cell, creates antibodies that destroy normal skin cells. Another type of white blood cell, the T-cell, begins making too much of a protein called a cytokine. This seems to turn off a signal that controls the growth of skin cells.

Is Your Psoriasis Treatment on Target for You?

Get tips on easing your symptoms and learn how to work around the emotional ups and downs.
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