Psoriasis Overview

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that triggers the production of excess skin cells. See more pictures of skin problems.
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You might have seen ads for psoriasis treatments that show the red, blotchy skin that comes from the condition. If you don't like looking at it, imagine living with it.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, which means it prevents the immune system from functioning correctly and identifying and killing pathogens. When our bodies are working properly, we shed 40,000 skin cells every minute. The immune systems of people with psoriasis send out faulty signals to the body, triggering the creation of excess skin cells. Instead of falling off, the cells build up on the skin and form red, scaly patches [source: National Psoriasis Foundation].

No one knows exactly what causes psoriasis. But some people are genetically predisposed to the condition, and when predisposition is combined with a trigger, such as stress or medication, it results in psoriasis. In fact, you could be healthy one day and unknowingly trigger a psoriasis outbreak the next. It's likely that 10 percent of the population is genetically predisposed to the disease, but only 2 to 3 percent will ever actually develop it [source: National Psoriasis Foundation].

Although not much is known about psoriasis, there are many people who live with the disease every day, and there are many effective forms of treatment available. Read on to learn more about psoriasis and its symptoms.