plaque, psoriasis specialist, west michigan, treatment, clear skin

Psoriasis: Your Frequently Asked Questions

plaque, psoriasis specialist, west michigan, treatment, clear skin

What does psoriasis look like?

Psoriasis normally appears as red or pink plaques of raised, thick, scaly skin. These red patches have a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells. It is often itchy and painful, which can lead them to crack and bleed. It most commonly affects the skin on the elbows, knees, and scalp, however it can appear anywhere on the body.


Where does psoriasis come from?

The cause of psoriasis remains unclear, but experts believe it’s a combination of a few things. The immune system does not work properly and causes inflammation. This triggers new skin cells to form too quickly. The buildup of old cells being replaced by new ones creates the scaly skin. Normal skin cells are replaced every 20 to 30 days, while psoriasis patients make new skin cells every 3 to 4 days.

The cause of the immune system dysfunction is unknown, but it is believed that both genetics and environmental factors play a role.

How does psoriasis spread?

Psoriasis cannot spread from person to person, but it can develop on other parts of your body. It is more likely to spread if it is left untreated, but it isn’t spread by scratching or touch. Treatment from a doctor who specializes in psoriasis can significantly reduce the risk that psoriasis will worsen and can make the disease manageable. Also, avoiding triggers will help keep it from spreading to other body parts.

What type of psoriasis do I have?

There are several types of psoriasis , and a dermatologist can help diagnose your type and help determine what treatment option is best for you.

Plaque Psoriasis: Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis. The plaques are referring to the red patches of raised skin with white buildup of dead skin cells.

Guttate: Guttate psoriasis is a form that appears as small, dot-like lesions. Guttate psoriasis often starts in childhood or young adulthood. It can be triggered by a strep throat infection. About 10% of psoriasis patients develop guttate psoriasis.

Inverse: Inverse psoriasis appears as very red lesions in body folds. It commonly shows up behind the knee, under the arm, under the breasts, or in the groin. It can appear shiny and smooth. Typically, people with inverse psoriasis also have a different type of psoriasis on other parts of the body at the same time.

Pustular: Pustular psoriasis shows up as white blisters surrounded by red skin. It most often appears on hands or feet but can appear anywhere on the body. The pustules have noninfectious pus that consists of white blood cells.

Erythrodermic: Erythrodermic psoriasis is a severe form of psoriasis that leads to redness all over the body. It can cause severe itchy and is painful. It is rare and only occurs in about 3% of people with psoriasis.

Unsure of what type of psoriasis you have? Schedule an appointment with Grand Rapids Top Doc and Face of Dermatology for a personalized consultation. Dr. Hawley has been a board-certified dermatologist since 2016, and since then she has become a rash expert and works closely with the National Psoriasis Foundation. She is nationally recognized for her treatment of this condition and has spoken about psoriasis across the nation. If you’re looking for the best of the best in treatment of psoriasis, come see us at The Derm Institute of West Michigan.

What causes psoriasis flare-ups?

There are several triggers that can cause flare-ups. These include:

  • Stress
  • Injury to the skin (cuts, sunburns, bug bite)
  • Medications
  • Infections
  • Diet
  • Weather
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Shaving


Is psoriasis contagious?

Psoriasis is not contagious. You cannot spread it to other people and touching affected skin will not transmit the disease. It isn’t caused by contagious bacteria. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder and genetics and environmental triggers determine if you will develop psoriasis.

Are psoriasis patients immunocompromised?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease and it can cause your immune system to attack healthy cells and tissue. The hyperactivity in the immune system can make people with psoriasis more prone to illness, but not necessarily infectious. People with psoriasis are at a greater risk of developing other conditions like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, liver disease, and high blood pressure. Psoriasis patients with any of these conditions are at an increased risk from COVID-19.

*Dr. Hawley recently spoke with Dr. Green of The Dermatologist’s Psoriasis Center of Excellence to discuss treatment options for patients with psoriasis and obesity. Check out the full podcast, Pearls in Psoriasis: Dr. Hawley on Treating Patients with Obesity, here!