What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a non-infectious, life-long skin disorder affecting about 2-5% of the population.  It is characterized by inflamed, red areas and silvery plaques on the skin--something known as "Auspitz sign".   (See picture to the right.)  Lesions are often itchy and uncomfortable, and may be susceptible to bleeding. 

There seems to be a genetic predisposition to the condition, with many skin outbreaks associated with times of physical or emotional stress.

The lesions classically involve the knees, elbows, back and scalp, but podiatrists often see the condition on the top of the feet and, in about 1 in 3, involvement with either the fingernails or toenails.  (See picture to the left.)

Small pits may be seen in the nail, along with severe abnormalities in the formation of the nail. 

Psoriatic Arthritis

In about 1 in 5 individuals, a unique form of arthritis known as "psoriatic arthritis" may develop, commonly affecting the toe or finger joints.   Often the affected finger or toe will appear quite swollen, a condition known as "sausage toe" or "sausage digit".   This condition is more frequently seen in patients with nail involvement. 

Psoriatic Arthritis is in the family of arthritidies known as "
seronegative spondyloarthropathies", and you can read more about this and other forms of arthritis on our
arthritis web page.


There are many topical treatments for psoriasis of the skin, including ultraviolet light (UV) radiation, Coal Tar preparations, topical steroids, Calcipotriol, Dithranol and other medications.   But no method is a permanent cure for this condition. 

When nail involvement has occurred, it may require professional routine maintenance or, when painful, permanent removal.

Arthritic involvement can be managed with anti-inflammatory medications, digital splints, or surgical intervention. 





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The Achilles Foot Health Centre
S. A. Schumacher, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S., F.A.C.F.A.O.M.  
Dr. S. A. Schumacher, Podiatric Corporation  

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