Medical Minute: Psoriasis

Two percent of the population has psoriasis. It's a chronic skin condition that affects about five million Americans.

Kevin Copeland is a physical therapist, but when his psoriasis becomes inflamed, it's difficult to work.

"When I'm working with a patient, and if I have to get on my knees on the mat, it's incredibly painful. You really do have some pretty thick patches down here don't you?" Kevin says.

Patches of psoriasis cover Kevin's legs and knees. You can see the thick, silvery scales. That's one of the signs of psoriasis. Alan Menter is chief of dermatology at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas.

"Scaly areas that are fairly symmetrical, in other words, what you have on one side you have on the other side involving the classic areas like the scalp, the elbows, the knees, you can almost guarantee that the patient has psoriasis," says Alan.

With psoriasis, skin cells multiply up to ten times faster than normal. As underlying cells reach the skin's surface and die, they build up causing scaly patches. No one knows who will get psoriasis, but it is heredity. Outbreaks can be triggered by stress or infection.

Kevin has tried dozens of treatments. Now he's hoping a topical gel will clear his psoriasis and allow him to work pain free.

For more information, contact:

The National Psoriasis Foundation

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