Psoriasis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Medically reviewed by Doctor Foo Wing Jian on Aug 1, 2019


Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes the rapid build-up of skin cells. Effects from the build-up process are forming of scales and red patches appearance. Normal life cycle of a skin cell is usually in a month. After a month, new skin will resurface while old dead skin will fall off.

That is not the case for psoriasis patient, the re-growth process of skin cell may occur within a few days. Thus, old skin doesn’t have enough time to fall off which lead to the build-up of skin cells. The scales and patches commonly appear in whitish-silver, red in colour and thicker than usual.

Scales from psoriasis typically develop on joints parts like elbows, knees and ankles. They may also develop anywhere on the body including hands, feet, neck, scalp and face. Some research has stated that psoriasis may be associated with several other conditions which are type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease and psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriasis is a non-contagious skin disease. Touching a psoriatic lesion on another won’t cause you to develop the same condition. Expert and doctors have stated that the skin condition can’t be passed from one via skin contact.


Psoriasis happens to anyone despite race, gender, age, and skin colour. Although psoriasis commonly carry the same attributes, symptoms may vary from one another. Some people may develop all the symptoms, and some may only have half of it.

The most common symptoms of psoriasis include:

  • Red, raised, thick and inflamed patches of skin
  • Itchy, dry skin that may crack and bleed
  • Whitish-silver scales or plaques on the patches
  • Thick, pitted fingernails and toenails.
  • Scaly plaques on the scalp
  • Soreness around patches
  • Painful and swollen joints

The Symptoms of Psoriasis


There are several types of psoriasis including:

Plaque psoriasis

Plaque psoriasis/ psoriasis vulgaris

Also known as psoriasis vulgaris. It is the most common type of psoriasis. It appears in a form of whitish-silver scales or plaques that covers the patches and cause redness and inflamed on the skin. This skin condition is commonly found on the elbows, knees, and scalp.

Guttate Psoriasis

Guttate psoriasis

Commonly appear as small, pink and teardrop-shaped spots at the torso, arms and legs. It usually happens during childhood or young adult and not as common as plaque psoriasis.

Inverse Psoriasis

Inverse psoriasis

Inverse psoriasis is a skin condition that develops in the folds of the skin where it sweats more and sensitive compared to the other parts. It can be seen at the armpits, under the breasts, groin, skin around genitals and between the buttocks. Lesions may cause itching, pain and bleeding to the affected area.

Palmoplantar Psoriasis

Palmoplantar psoriasis

A type of psoriasis that affects the palms of the hands and feet. The patient of palmoplantar psoriasis will show symptoms of redness, scaling, raised and thickened skin, itching and also burning sensation.

Erythrodermic Psoriasis

Erythrodermic psoriasis

A skin condition that affects the entire skin surface involved with the disease. It is uncommon, aggressive, and inflammatory form of psoriasis. Non-treated of erythrodermic psoriasis can be life-threatening and the causes are said to be due to an overactive immune system.

Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis spreads at the forehead, back of neck, behind ears and also entire scalp. Sometimes people identified it as excessive dandruff which is not. Scalp psoriasis makes raised, reddish, and scaly patches. The exact cause is still unknown, but doctors believe it comes from something wrong with the immune system that caused cells to grow too quickly.

Pustular Psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis

This type of psoriasis is scaly, flaky and also itchy. Pustular psoriasis can be passed through heredity but can’t spread from skin contact. It affects the area of the palm of your hands, soles of the feet, fingers and toes. It appears in the form of bumps filled with near or inside red skin blotches or blisters. It usually happens to adults and rarely in kids or infants.

Nail Psoriasis

Nail psoriasis

Nail psoriasis produces yellow pitted nails which are not contagious. It happens because of the combination of genetic, immunologic and environmental factors. It may resemble fungal nail infections which are hard to identify without consultation with the doctor.


Psoriasis can be defined as an autoimmune condition where white blood cells mistakenly attack the skin cells. There is no exact cause that triggers psoriasis to happen. Experts stated that combinations elements of genetic, immunologic and environmental factors may be the reason. Immune system plays an important role as it controls the cell’s production inside the body. Thus, it causes the skin production process to over-produce. The skin becomes piled up on the surface as the life cycle are interrupted and the new skin is being pushed.

Number of people that develop psoriasis through genetics are much lower in percentage compared to the immunologic factors. However, the treatment and medications are still the same as it shows the same symptoms and side effects.

Sign of psoriasis can be diagnosed through physical examination and biopsy. Do consult with doctors or expects to know more about the disease and prevention treatment.

Cause of Psproasis


Live with psoriasis or any skin disease may be challenging. But with the right and effective approach, the situation can be different. Psoriasis is considered an incurable and long term inflammatory skin condition. Trying out different types of treatments and medications can be either periodically improving or worsening the condition.

How to Prevent Psoriasis

  • Lose weight – reducing fat percentage in your body may help with the treatment and overall health.
  • Eat healthy diet- consume more heart-healthy diet which contains lean protein such as salmon, sardines, shrimp, chia seeds, flaxseed and walnuts which contain high omega-3.
  • Avoid trigger foods– Do avoid any foods that can worsen psoriasis. Do avoid food that can cause inflammation, irritation and other symptoms such as red meat, refined sugar, processed foods and also dairy products.
  • Drink less alcohol – As alcohol increase risk of flares up, drink it less or quitting it may be a good step to treat psoriasis.
  • Taking care of emotional health – Learning to manage and taking care of emotional health may ease the symptoms of psoriasis as it is proven triggered psoriasis. Some exercises and meditation activities include yoga and journaling may help in reducing stress.


Combining the natural ways together with medication may help in reducing or getting rid of psoriasis. But do consult with the doctors first before trying out any natural remedies in order to prevent any serious side effects.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera can be used to reduce redness and scaling associated with psoriasis. Aloe Vera gel is extracted from the leaves of the aloe plant and has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of disease or discomfort. Aloe vera contains antibacterial, antimicrobial, immune system-boosting and wound healing properties which aid to prevent skin infections and promote healing.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

Psoriasis skin is less acidic compared to normal skin. By applying diluted apple cider vinegar to the treated area, it could help in balancing the skin’s acidity level. Be cautious with the concentrations of vinegar as the vinegar’s acid can damage soft tissues which weaken the skin’s defence and cause burn if not diluted. It’s also used to relieve scalp itch and irritation from psoriasis.



Regular uses of capsaicin ointment on psoriasis skin help in reducing inflammation, redness and scaling appearance. Capsaicin functions as a blockage for the nerve endings that transmit pain. Some burning sensation may be felt when the ointment is applied.

Dead Sea Salts

Dead Sea Salts

It contains sulphur in natural forms where it helps in detoxifying and cleansing. Use of dead sea salts to psoriasis skin is to restore the balance of cells to reduce the oiliness of the scalp.



Oats are used either as oat paste or during bath which would relieve symptoms and sign of psoriasis including reduce itchy skin, redness and inflammation.


Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is extracted from the leaves of the melaleuca alternifolia tree or tea tree. It helps with skin problems by providing anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and wound healing properties in the oil. Regularly use of tea tree oil help relieve skin dryness, itching caused by psoriasis and help prevent infections.



Research has proven that turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Regular use of turmeric in treating psoriasis help in minimizing the symptoms and psoriatic arthritis flares. Turmeric contains curcumin which is the active ingredient that can alter gene expression.


Psoriasis has no cure, the only available treatments are designed to reduce inflammation and scales, slow the growth of skin cells, removes plaques and also reduce the discomfort caused by the disease.

Topical cream

Topical cream/lotion

Cream, lotions or ointments are applied directly to the affected skin area.  Topical treatments for psoriasis include:

  • Topical Corticosteroid – Its main purposes are to reduce inflammation, relieve itching and blocking the production of cells that overproduced in psoriasis. Stronger application of this cream may cause burning, dryness, irritation and thinning of the skin. Be sure to consult with the doctor first before using any steroid based products.
  • Topical Retinoids – Help in improving psoriasis but doesn’t work as effective as steroid based creams. It may cause dryness and irritation to the skin during consuming the cream.
  • Anthralin – Using anthralin to treat psoriasis helps in reducing the swelling and also slow the growth of new skin cells. But, there are some side effects that may need attention as it causes temporary discolouration to the skin as well as clothing, irritation and burning sensation on the skin.
  • Synthetic Vitamin D – Intake of vitamin D can help reduce the accumulation of skin cells, flatten back thick patches and also remove the appeared scales caused by psoriasis. It is safe to use for both adults and children.
  •  Salicylic acid – Help smoothes the skin by promoting the shedding of psoriatic scales. The effectiveness of this cream is modest as it may cause skin irritation and weaken hair shaft which caused temporary hair loss.
  • Calcineurin inhibitors – this cream would be prescribed by the doctor when other medications are not working or non-effectively used to treat psoriasis. It is recommended to use only a thin layer of cream at the affected area. It is designed for areas that are not suitable to use steroid cream due to the risk of adverse effects.
  • Coal Tar – Using cream or lotion that contains coal tar helps skin to look healthier and slow down the re-growth of new skin cells.
  • Moisturiser – Moisturise the affected skin regularly helps in reducing dryness by trapping moisture.



  • Biologics – They use drugs to fight the causes of rather than just ease the symptoms of psoriasis. The medication is aimed to alter the immune system by preventing interaction between immune system and inflammatory pathways, but it comes with side effects that also lowers body defences. It can be taken using an injection or through IV infusion.
  • Methotrexate – It works by suppressing the immune system and stopping the growth of skin cells. This drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs. However, it may cause harm to unborn baby, pregnant women and women who try to conceive. Long term use of methotrexate may cause serious side effects such as liver damage and reduce in production of red and white blood cells.
  • Cyclosporine– It functions as immunosuppressant which weakens the immune system to help the body slows down the growth of certain immune cells. It is widely used for organ transplant patients.
  • Retinoids – Retinoids is used to treat psoriasis by reducing the multiplication of cells. It may cause some side effects including hair loss and lip inflammation. Psoriasis may return once you stop taking retinoids as medication.

If you’d like to know more about psoriasis and its solution, please call us to arrange a consultation session. We are available from 8am to 12 midnight DAILY.

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