Psoriasis: cause, symptoms, treatment, prognosis

Most skin conditions do not seriously threaten health, but chronic skin diseases such as psoriasis can have a major impact on a person’s life. Psoriasis involves thickened areas on various parts of the body that are red in color. Psoriasis is also called scale disease. What types of psoriasis are there and what are the causes? How can psoriasis be treated and what is the prognosis? Are people with psoriasis at increased risk of kidney disease?

Article content

  • Psoriasis
  • Causes of psoriasis
  • Types of psoriasis
  • 1. Psoriasis vulgaris
  • 2. Guttate psoriasis
  • 3. Pustular psoriasis
  • 4. Psoriasis inversa
  • Complications psoriasis
  • Diagnosis psoriasis
  • Psoriasis treatment
  • What can you do yourself?
  • Psoriasis prognosis
  • Psoriasis in the news (October 2013)


Psoriasis is a skin condition that is common and not easy to suppress. You see the spots return at intervals. Usually there are no complaints of itching, but the spots do cause discomfort, both physically and socially. The latter, especially if the spots are on body parts that are visible to others. Skin affected by psoriasis produces new cells at a much faster rate than it sheds dead skin cells. This leads to thick layers of excess skin cells.

Causes of psoriasis

  • It is not known what causes the skin condition.
  • However, psoriasis can, for example, be caused by an inflammation of the throat caused by streptococci.
  • Tension can play a role.
  • Injuries can be the trigger.
  • Heredity could be a component, as several people in a family often have the skin condition.
  • Be aware of certain medications: beta blockers, some painkillers, anti-malarial pills and lithium can trigger psoriasis or make it worse.

Types of psoriasis

  1. Psoriasis vulgaris
  2. Guttate psoriasis
  3. Pustular psoriasis
  4. Psoriasis inversa

1. Psoriasis vulgaris

This form of psoriasis is the most common. Another name for psoriasis vulgaris is plaque psoriasis . You can get the condition at any age and it lasts for the rest of your life. The symptoms listed below often last weeks or months. They can remain present, but also leave and come back.

Symptoms that may occur

  • You see thick patches of skin, red in color and the skin is flaky. The spots are often located on the elbows, lower back, knees, behind the ears and the hairline.
  • The spots can also occur on scar tissue or on damaged skin.
  • The spots can cause an itchy feeling.
  • The nails may look different: discolorations, small pits on the nails. The nails can even become loose from the nail bed.

2. Guttate psoriasis

Guttate psoriasis is most commonly seen in children and adolescents. This is usually preceded by a throat infection caused by streptococci. In children, the symptoms often disappear after four to six weeks, but in adolescents it takes longer. It is rare that this form of psoriasis comes back again. Some people who have had this form will later develop another form of the skin condition.


  • Many round spots that are red in color and flaking.
  • These are relatively small spots, with a diameter of less than one centimeter.
  • The spots mainly occur on the chest and back.
  • Sometimes the affected skin causes an itchy feeling.

3. Pustular psoriasis

This is a severe form of psoriasis that is uncommon. You mainly see pustular psoriasis in adults. The condition can occur suddenly. In the worst case, the entire body may be affected.


  • You see small blisters on the palms of the hands and on the soles of the feet.
  • The blisters are filled with pus.
  • Large areas of skin that are red, inflamed and very sensitive.
  • The parts of the skin that are affected are thickened and you see flakes.

4. Psoriasis inversa

This type of psoriasis mainly affects the elderly. Psoriasis inversa responds to treatment but can come back.


  • Often large spots in skin folds (groin, under the breasts, armpits), not over the entire body.
  • The color of the spots is red and they are somewhat wet.

Complications psoriasis

  • About five to ten percent of people with psoriasis, regardless of the type, develop complaints in the joints. Often in the fingers or toes.
  • If pustular psoriasis is spread over a large part of the body or over the entire body, there is a risk of dehydration, kidney failure, infections or fever. Treatment is necessary, otherwise someone can die.

Diagnosis psoriasis

The diagnosis of the type of psoriasis is made on the basis of the external characteristics.

Psoriasis treatment

  • In the case of a mild form of psoriasis, which causes few symptoms, you may decide not to have it treated.
  • Psoriasis is often treated with a cream or ointment that soothes and makes the skin more supple. For a hairy scalp, a lotion or emulsion is preferable.
  • If someone suffers from flakes a lot, a cream containing salicylic acid is often first used for a short time.
  • In adults, one usually starts with a strong corticosteroid or calcipotriol. If this does not produce any results, you can choose another product. The drug ditranol has side effects: irritation and temporary discoloration of the skin, hair and nails (purple, brown) may occur. The effect of corticosteroids can be expected after approximately two weeks. If you use corticosteroids for a long time, the areas may become less sensitive to the medicine.

What can you do yourself?

  • Try to avoid factors that worsen the symptoms.
  • Avoid sunburn.
  • Prevent damage to the skin.
  • Keep nails short.
  • Do not shower for too long or too hot, as this can dry out the skin (also applies to bathing).
  • Stop smoking, this may reduce the symptoms.
  • Consume less alcohol, this may reduce the symptoms.
  • Keep a diary about the complaints, this can provide insight.
  • If you suffer from the skin disease over large parts of the body, treatment with ultraviolet light (UV) in light cabins in a hospital/clinic may help. PUVA therapy: application of UV together with an oral agent that makes the skin more sensitive to the effects of light. This treatment has a slightly increased risk of skin cancer and is only performed under the supervision of a skin doctor. You can also opt for UV therapy without medication.
  • Regular short amounts of sunlight can help if you suffer from psoriasis. You must be very careful not to burn the skin.
  • There are other remedies that can be used for severe or extensive cases of psoriasis. Be well informed about these medications. For example, they may cause abnormalities in the unborn child. If you are pregnant or want to become pregnant, you should not use these products.

Psoriasis prognosis

Psoriasis cannot be cured, but the symptoms usually improve with treatment. This way someone can still lead a ‘normal’ life. You can join a patient association to get more information and tips.

Psoriasis in the news (October 2013)

People with moderate to severe psoriasis are at increased risk for kidney disease . Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania came to this conclusion after analyzing data from nearly 144,000 people with psoriasis and a control group of nearly 690,000 adults. The participants in the study were followed for a long time, seven years. The results of the study are described in the British Medical Journal. With severe psoriasis, the risk of kidney disease was almost twice as high and the risk of kidney failure was four times higher. Age would also play an important role; the risk of kidney disease increases in older people with psoriasis. A link has therefore been found between psoriasis and kidney problems, but it is not clear whether there is a causal relationship. Further research is needed for this.