While doctors aren't sure what triggers psoriasis, they do know a lot more about treatment. In November's Health Check report, Tracy Madden has details of dealing with the chronic condition.
Regular visits to the dermatologist are now part of Jean Ambrose's life. She has psoriasis.
"It's very itchy," Jean said. "You just want to keep scratching."
The patches first turned up a year ago
Jean told us, "I had no idea what it was. It came on each knee so I thought it was a cut that wasn't going away. I decided to get it checked when it wasn't going away and he knew right away."
The condition is usually chronic, meaning once you get it, it's not going away on its own.
Dr. James Shehan, a dermatologist with Alegent Health Clinic, says that while no one understands all the triggers for psoriasis, researchers have uncovered some helpful information.
Dr. Shehan says, "We thought it was purely a disorder of the skin where the skin grew too rapidly so patients would develop thickened areas but over the last 10 years we came to understand it is a disorder of the immune system. It's an autoimmune condition where it attacks the skin."
Now that doctors have discovered psoriasis is actually a disorder of the immune system there are a lot of medicines available: everything from topical, to oral, to injectable medicine. Photo therapy is another option. Patients usually come in three times a week.
The right treatment can make a big difference. A topical cream made a big difference in one month for a patient with a chronic plaque-type of psoriasis on the hands. Another patient's back was covered with psoriasis and an oral medicine cleared it up in eight weeks.
What works for a while might not work forever. Jean Ambrose is now looking for another option but with the help of her doctor, Jean can live with psoriasis instead of it controlling her life.
If you're tempted to just suffer with psoriasis, doctors say don't. Recent studies show a possible link between moderate psoriasis and an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.