Psoriasis Specialists at Scottsdale Dermatology


Psoriasis is a common skin condition that revs up skin cell life cycles, causing cells to “pile” on the skin’s superficial layer. These extra cells create red, itchy, and patchy areas. Severe cases of psoriasis can be painful, but the condition is not dangerous or contagious. Psoriasis is most often found on the scalp, buttocks, elbows, and knees, but can be anywhere on the body. Psoriasis has no cure, but there are various techniques and procedures to reduce outbreaks and treat symptoms.

Psoriasis can range in severity, and this severity can fluctuate throughout a person’s life. Symptoms can also vary and include thickened and pitted nails and swollen joints along with the more traditional side effects. There are various types of psoriasis, but all have cycles and flareups that can last from a few weeks to months. Sometimes a person experiences complete remission with seemingly no lifestyle changes.

Types of Psoriasis

  • Erythrodermic psoriasis: This is the rarest form of psoriasis, and causes the entire body to be covered in a rash that burns, itches, and peels.
  • Guttate psoriasis: This type of psoriasis is usually found in children and young adults. It is triggered by unrelated infections and presents as small “drops” of lesions. These scales are not as thick as those found on plaque psoriasis.
  • Inverse psoriasis: Found primarily in the armpits, groin, below the breasts, and near the genitals, this type of psoriasis worsens with sweating and friction. Fungal injections can trigger inverse psoriasis.
  • Nail psoriasis: Psoriasis can affect the fingernails and toenails, resulting in abnormal growths. Nail psoriasis can also separate the nail from the nail bed or cause nails to crumble.
  • Plaque psoriasis: This is the most common type of psoriasis and results in red skin that is raised, dry, and is sometimes topped with silver scales. Plaque psoriasis can be itchy, painful, and can occur anywhere on the body (including inside the mouth and in the genital area).
  • Psoriatic arthritis: This occurs when a patient experiences a combination of any type of psoriasis with joints that are swollen and painful. Psoriatic arthritis can occur in any joint. It is not as debilitating as other types of arthritis, but in severe cases it can cause permanent deformities.
  • Pustular psoriasis: A rare form of psoriasis, it presents in big patches or might be smaller and located on the hands and feet. This quick-forming psoriasis features blisters filled with pus. Flu-like symptoms can accompany pustular psoriasis.
Psoriasis Treatment | Spectrum Dermatology, Scottsdale, AZ

Causes and Triggers of Psoriasis

Nobody knows exactly what causes psoriasis. However, it is suspected that it is linked to an immune disorder affecting white blood cells and T cells. T cells are in charge of defending the body from foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. However, with psoriasis the T cells also attack healthy skin cells. When T cells are overactive, then redness, lesions, and dilated blood vessels occur.

It’s a mistake made by the T cells that leads to a surge in healthy skin cell production. This ongoing cycle results in thick patches of skin with a shiny, scale-like topping. It is theorized that both genetics and environmental factors can cause psoriasis.

Psoriasis Treatment | Spectrum Dermatology, Scottsdale, AZ
Diagnosis, Treatment, Complications of Psoriasis

Psoriasis Diagnosis

Only a dermatologist can diagnose psoriasis. It is a fast process, and usually requires only a physical examination. Family history and personal history of skin, nail, and scalp flareups are recorded. In rare cases, a skin biopsy may be recommended.

Psoriasis Treatment

  • The goal of psoriasis treatment is to minimize inflammation and improve the look of skin. The three primary types of treatments are topical, light therapy, and medications.
  • Topical treatments can be very effective for mild and moderate psoriasis. They often include topical corticosteroids, vitamin D creams, anthralin to slow the growth of skin cells, and topical retinoids to minimize inflammation.
  • Light therapy, or phototherapy, can also help. This can include controlled sunlight recommendations from a dermatologist, UV-B phototherapy, psoralen plus ultraviolet-A treatments, and the Excimer laser.
  • Medications, both oral and injectable, may be recommended for certain types of psoriasis. Common medications include retinoids, methotrexate to suppress inflammation, cyclosporine to suppress the immune system, and biologics.
  • Up to three percent of the world’s population has psoriasis—you are not alone. Treatments are available, and working with a dermatologist is the best way to decrease flareups.

Am I at risk for psoriasis?

Anyone can develop psoriasis, and first flareups can occur in adulthood. You are at a higher risk of psoriasis if:

  • A family member has psoriasis: Genetic links to psoriasis is the highest risk factor.
  • Infections (viral and bacterial): Those with HIV develop psoriasis due to a compromised immune system. Children with recurring infections, and especially strep throat, are also at an increased risk.
  • Stress: Stress compromises the immune system, and high or recurring stress can increase the odds of developing psoriasis.
  • Obesity: Excess weight is linked to psoriasis, especially plaque psoriasis that develops between folds of skin.
  • Smoking: Tobacco use not only increases the occurrence of psoriasis, but also the severity. Some research shows smoking is also linked to initial development of psoriasis.

What are the common causes of psoriasis?

Everyone has different psoriasis triggers. Understanding yours can help minimize outbreaks. Common triggers include:

  • Certain medications, particularly lithium, blood pressure medications, iodides, and anti-malarial drugs
  • Heavy drinking
  • Skin injuries
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Unrelated infections, particularly skin infections
  • Vitamin D deficiency

Complications of Psoriasis

Psoriasis can be a sign that other diseases might be lurking. These can include:

  • Additional autoimmune disorders: Psoriasis sufferers have higher rates of Crohn’s disease, sclerosis, and Celiac disease.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Those with psoriasis are twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease. It is theorized that psoriasis can increase strokes, high cholesterol, irregular heartbeats, and atherosclerosis.
  • Emotional troubles: Unsurprisingly, psoriasis can cause anxiety, depression, and affect quality of life. Low self-esteem is a common side effect.
  • Eye disorders: Certain eye disorders like conjunctivitis (pink eye), uveitis, and blepharitis, occur more often in those with psoriasis.
  • High blood pressure: If you have psoriasis, you are also more likely to have high blood pressure.
  • Kidney disease: If a client has moderate or severe psoriasis, they also have higher rates of kidney disease.
  • Metabolic syndrome: This syndrome is a combination of insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels, which can all cause heart disease.
  • Obesity: Does psoriasis cause obesity, or does obesity cause psoriasis? Nobody is certain, but what is known is that the two are often paired together.
  • Parkinson’s disease: Psoriasis has ties to this neurological condition.
  • Type 2 diabetes: Adult-onset diabetes has a link with psoriasis. More severe types of psoriasis are linked with higher rates of type 2 diabetes.

Contact Us For Treatment of Psoriasis

Trust Spectrum Dermatology to offer the widest range of psoriasis treatments and recommendations in a compassionate and understanding environment. Call (480) 948-8400 to connect with one of four locations in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.