Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of the disease and appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells or scale. These patches or plaques most often appear on the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back. They are often itchy and painful, and they can crack and bleed.
If you develop a rash that doesn't go away with an over-the-counter medication, you should consider contacting your doctor. Your doctor will look for raised, red scales with well-defined edges, and will consider how the rash responds to medication before making a diagnosis. Plaque psoriasis is most often found on the outside of knees and elbows, the scalp, the lower back, the face, the palms and soles of feet. When biopsied, psoriasis skin looks thicker and inflamed when compared with eczema.
Treatments listed below may be used alone or in combination with other treatments.
- Topical Treatments with and without steroids usually are the first choice in treating psoriasis. Prescription topicals slow down skin cell growth and reduce inflammation.
- Phototherapy involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet light on a regular basis and under medical supervision. Treatments are done in a health care provider's office or at home with a phototherapy unit.
- Systemic medications are prescription drugs that work throughout the body. They are used for individuals with psoriatic arthritis and those with moderate to severe psoriasis whose symptoms are unresponsive to other treatments. Systemic medications are taken orally, by injection or infusion and fall into two categories—traditional systemics and biologics.
Keep in mind—no single psoriasis treatment works for everyone. Working closely with a dermatologist is key to bringing psoriasis into remission.
Learn more about recent genetic discoveries about plaque psoriasis