What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a non-infectious,
life-long skin disorder affecting about 2-5% of the
population. It is characterized by inflamed, red areas and
silvery plaques on the skin--something known as "Auspitz
picture to the right.) Lesions are often itchy and
uncomfortable, and may be susceptible to bleeding.
There seems to be a genetic
predisposition to the condition, with many skin outbreaks
associated with times of physical or emotional stress.
The lesions classically
involve the knees, elbows, back and scalp, but podiatrists often
see the condition on the top of the feet and, in about 1 in 3,
involvement with either the fingernails or toenails. (See
picture to the left.)
Small pits may be seen in the nail,
along with severe abnormalities in the formation of the
In about 1 in 5 individuals, a unique form
of arthritis known as "psoriatic
arthritis" may develop, commonly
affecting the toe or finger joints. Often the affected
finger or toe will appear quite swollen, a condition known as "sausage
toe" or "sausage
digit". This condition is
more frequently seen in patients with nail involvement.
Psoriatic Arthritis is in the family of arthritidies known as "seronegative
spondyloarthropathies", and you can
read more about this and other forms of arthritis on our
There are many topical treatments for psoriasis of
the skin, including ultraviolet light (UV) radiation, Coal Tar preparations,
topical steroids, Calcipotriol, Dithranol and other medications. But
no method is a permanent cure for this condition.
When nail involvement has occurred, it may require
professional routine maintenance or, when painful, permanent removal.
Arthritic involvement can be managed with
anti-inflammatory medications, digital splints, or surgical intervention.