What to Expect When Treating Moderate to Severe Plaque Psoriasis


Katherine Omueti Ayoade, MD, PhD

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According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 7.5 million people have plaque psoriasis in the United States. Recently, high profile patients like Kim Kardashian and Art Garfunkel have given the disease more attention in the public sphere. A disease that causes red, scaly and often painful plaques on the skin, psoriasis occurs when your body’s immune system makes skin cells grow too quickly. This condition can be both physically debilitating and emotionally exhausting for those with moderate to severe cases. Psoriasis can appear at any age, but in my clinical practice I see a range of patients from age 20 to age 60 struggling with the condition.

Diagnosing Moderate to Severe Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an immune-mediated inflammatory disorder, or a disease in a group of conditions with unknown origins that are characterized by inflammation. There are as many as five clinical variants of psoriasis distinguished by location on the body and the kind of rash they produce. Plaque psoriasis is by far the most common, affecting 80 to 90% of psoriasis patients. The disease is usually diagnosed by a full-body skin exam or a biopsy of the affected skin. Psoriasis outbreaks on the skin can vary in severity depending on how extensive the lesions are and how red, scaly and thick they become. Typically, mild plaque psoriasis covers less than 3% of a patient’s body surface area, moderate psoriasis covers between 3 and 10%, and severe psoriasis covers more than 10% of a patient’s body surface.  

It’s not a rash, it’s not just dry skin—it’s psoriasis. Psoriasis patients and experts share what they want you to know about this chronic condition.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 13, 2016

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