Psoriasis is a medical condition that occurs when skin cells grow too quickly. Faulty signals in the immune system cause new skin cells to form in days rather than weeks. The body does not shed these excess skin cells, so the cells pile up on the surface of the skin and lesions form.
The lesions vary in appearance with the type of psoriasis. There are five types of psoriasis:
About 80% of people living with psoriasis have plaque (plak) psoriasis, also called “psoriasis vulgaris.” Plaque psoriasis causes patches of thick, scaly skin that may be white, silvery, or red. These patches can develop anywhere on the skin. The most common areas to find plaques are the elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp.
Psoriasis also can affect the nails. About 50% of people who develop psoriasis see changes in their fingernails and/or toenails. If the nails begin to pull away from the nail bed or develop pitting, ridges, or a yellowish-orange color, this could be a sign of psoriatic arthritis. Without treatment, psoriatic arthritis can progress and become debilitating.
It is important to see a dermatologist if nail changes begin or joint pain develops. Early treatment can prevent joint deterioration.