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psoriasisAugust is Psoriasis Awareness Month. The Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery helps dispel misinformation, myths, and stigmas surrounding this skin condition.

Seeing big red spots on your skin? It may be more serious than you think. It could be psoriasis, a skin condition that can be itchy, burning, and painful.

“Most patients suffering from psoriasis feel self-conscious and embarrassed by the way they look,” says Dr. Bernard Gasch, a board-certified dermatologist at the Center for Dermatology and Laser Surgery. “This may prevent them from getting help. But the best thing to do is to see a doctor.”

Psoriasis affects more than 7 million Americans. Although there’s no cure, the good news is that psoriasis can be successfully treated.

“There are a variety of options that can control psoriasis for months, years, or even permanently,” says Dr. Gasch. “Depending on the individual, we use topical medications, oral or injectable medications, and phototherapy. We can develop a plan to treat your psoriasis that is tailored to your needs.”

What’s psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disorder that results in thick, red, scaling plaques commonly on the elbows and knees. But they can also form on the scalp, face, trunk, hands, feet, buttocks, skin folds, and genitals.

What causes psoriasis?

In psoriasis, the body’s immune system sends out false signals that cause skin growth to accelerate. This response can be triggered by an infection, such as strep throat, or by certain medications. Psoriasis also has some genetic influences.

Why should I see a doctor?

Psoriasis can have more severe implications. “Many times, psoriasis appears with other diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, as well as depression,” says Dr. Gasch. “The National Psoriasis Foundation also estimates that almost 30 percent of people with psoriasis can develop psoriatic arthritis, which can cause swelling, stiffness, and joint pain.”

Overcoming psoriasis

If you have psoriasis, it’s important to know that you’re not alone.

“Many people live with psoriasis and symptoms can be relieved with professional help,” says Dr. Gasch. “If you think you have psoriasis, I encourage you to see a board-certified dermatologist to learn about your treatment options.”