Moderate plaque psoriasis is when patches cover 3%-10% of your body surface area
Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis, affecting up to 80% of people with psoriasis. Also called psoriasis vulgaris, plaque psoriasis is characterized by raised patches of itchy, painful skin with shiny scales that may crack and bleed.
Moderate plaque psoriasis is when patches cover 3%-10% of your body surface area. These skin lesions can have a significant impact on quality of life and generally require systemic medications.
Approximately 20%-30% of people with psoriasis have moderate to severe forms of the disease.
How is the severity of plaque psoriasis measured?
Psoriasis is classified as mild, moderate, or severe depending on the extent of skin involvement:
- Mild psoriasis: Affects less than 3% of the body and may present as isolated patches on the scalp and/or limbs.
- Moderate psoriasis: Affects about 3%-10% of the body, with lesions present on the limbs, torso, and scalp.
- Severe psoriasis: Affects more than 10% of the body, and large psoriatic lesions may be seen on the face, limbs, palms, soles, and skin folds.
What are the symptoms of moderate plaque psoriasis?
In addition to red, scaly patches, other symptoms of psoriasis include:
What causes plaque psoriasis?
The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, but experts believe that it is triggered by an exaggerated immune system response that causes inflammation and rapid new skin cell growth.
Plaque psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, which means that part of your immune system becomes overactive and attacks normal tissues in your body. This causes skin cells to multiply about 10 times faster than normal, which leads to bumpy, red skin patches covered with white or silvery scales.
Psoriasis can be passed down through families and tends to be slightly more common in women than in men. It is a chronic condition. Treatments can help reduce psoriasis symptoms or make them go away temporarily (remission), but flare-ups will occur throughout life.
What can trigger plaque psoriasis flare-ups?
Plaque psoriasis flare-ups can be triggered by:
- Skin injuries (cuts, scrapes, sunburn or surgery)
- Streptococcal infections
- Larger skin folds due to excess weight gain
- Excessive perspiration
- Emotional stress
- Cold, dry weather
- Certain prescription medications such as lithium and beta-blockers
How do dermatologists diagnose plaque psoriasis?
To diagnose psoriasis, a dermatologist will examine your skin, nails, and scalp for signs of the condition and ask about symptoms such as itchy or dry skin, joint problems, and family history of psoriasis or other skin conditions.
In rare cases, a skin biopsy may be ordered to confirm a diagnosis.
What are complications of psoriasis?
Possible complications of psoriasis include the following:
- Psoriatic arthritis: Approximately 20%-30% of individuals with psoriasis have joint inflammation with symptoms of arthritis.
- Nail psoriasis: Approximately 50% of people with psoriasis have nail changes including pitting of nails, discolored, tender and painful nails and separation of the nail from the bed.
How is psoriasis treated?
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that has no cure. Many people experience periods of remission (clear skin for months or years at a time) as well as occasional flare-ups where the condition worsens. Treatment can help relieve symptoms and prevent complications.
Treatment depends on the type and severity of the condition and may include:
- Systemic therapies
- Psoralen plus ultraviolet A
- Laser therapy
Lifestyle changes that can help reduce symptoms include: