If You Have Plaque Psoriasis, Here Are 7 Things You Need to Know

Before your next doctor visit, take these steps to help address your concerns.

Amgen Psoriasis

More than 8 million people in the U.S. are living with psoriasis, and about 80-90% of them are diagnosed specifically with plaque psoriasis, which typically causes discolored, scaly patches to develop on the skin 1,2. Despite the prevalence and research studying the disease, there are still many aspects that may not be fully understood because psoriasis affects everyone differently. Here are seven important facts to understand about this condition.


1.  Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease.

Chronic diseases are typically life-long and require ongoing medical attention. What many people may not know is that the patches on the skin associated with psoriasis are actually caused by inflammation inside the body, resulting from dysfunction in the immune system.


2.  Everyone’s psoriasis looks different.

There’s a misconception that psoriasis looks the same from person-to-person, but that’s not the reality. Psoriasis has a range of severity levels (mild, moderate or severe) and will look and feel differently depending on bodily location (e.g., arms, legs, scalp, nails) and the person’s skin type. For most people, it will present as plaque psoriasis—one of the most common types2. A dermatologist can work with you to help address the underlying cause of your psoriasis to help get clearer skin and importantly reduce symptoms caused by inflammation.

3. Doctors can measure the severity of your plaque psoriasis and create a personalized treatment plan.

Historically, doctors categorize psoriasis as mild, moderate or severe based on Body Surface Area (BSA) impacted—so, the more surface area of the body impacted by psoriasis, the more severe the diagnosis will be, but other factors may also be considered. With that said, there is increasing awareness that there are other factors that may contribute to disease severity. “There are many tools to measure the severity of plaque psoriasis and a number of considerations that help determine the right treatment approach for each patient,” says Dr. Stacie Bell, PhD, chief scientific and medical officer at the National Psoriasis Foundation.

4.  Don’t overlook the unseen impacts and challenges of psoriasis.

Your doctor may consider other factors beyond what is visible on your skin when determining disease severity—and these could be things you’re experiencing in day-to-day life that someone may not realize are psoriasis symptoms. Patients with mild to moderate psoriasis often experience bothersome symptoms, such as itching, and psoriasis in special areas (scalp and nail, for example) to a similar extent as patients with moderate to severe psoriasis3. “In my experience, sometimes clinical measurement tools, like BSA, do not completely capture what patients are experiencing,” says Dr. Bell. “As a result, the majority of patients with a clinical diagnosis of mild to moderate disease may perceive their disease to be moderate to severe4 — so it’s important for doctors and patients to have open conversations about addressing the challenges the patient is facing and partner to develop an appropriate treatment plan.” 

5.  If you have mild to moderate plaque psoriasis, it’s important to seek treatment.

Doctors today understand that psoriasis is a sign of inflammation occurring in the body. Despite treatment options, a recent survey showed about one-third of people with mild to moderate plaque psoriasis are not receiving treatment or are using topical treatments4, which may not be enough for some patients. If you live with plaque psoriasis it’s important to work closely with your doctor, either in-person or virtually, to develop a treatment plan that works for you—because no two cases will be treated the same.

6.  Topical treatments (creams/ointments) alone may not be enough to manage your plaque psoriasis.

If you’re experiencing irritating symptoms like itchy skin, flakes or discolored, inflamed plaques, topical treatments can help address the external areas where the disease presents—but topicals don’t always address the underlying causes of psoriasis, like the inflammation inside the body that speeds up the growth cycle of skin cells. As well, topicals may not be sufficient for certain difficult-to-treat areas, such as the scalp. If this is the case for you, talk to your doctor about your treatment goals and potential alternatives for treating your condition.

7.  Small changes could make a big impact.

Itchy skin is, of course, one of the most common symptoms of psoriasis, but some people may not realize that this symptom presents other inconveniences for people with psoriasis. For example, you may have to change the fabric of the clothes you’re wearing or the sheets you’re using, since they may be adding to the irritation of your already itchy skin. These are things people with psoriasis may not realize until they get deeper into their treatment journey. That’s why connecting with support groups or online communities is so important, so you can gain perspectives and tips from others living with psoriasis.

“People with plaque psoriasis, even those that seem to have less severe cases, need to know that they’re not alone in finding a treatment plan that works for them,” says Dr. Bell. “And the sooner they take the steps to find the right treatment, the better. With the help of their provider and care team, people with plaque psoriasis can find options to help achieve clearer skin and potentially help reduce the burden of disease.”

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • [1] National Psoriasis Foundation. Statistics. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/psoriasis-statistics/. Accessed November 3, 2021.

  • [2] National Psoriasis Foundation. Plaque Psoriasis. Available at: https://www.psoriasis.org/plaque/. Accessed November 3, 2021.

  • [3] Strober B et al. Analysis of real-world systemic-nerve patients with mild or moderate vs severe plaque psoriasis: patient characteristics and disease burden findings from CorEvitas’ psoriasis registry. Presented by EADV 2021.

  • [4] Lebwohl M et al. Evolution of patient perceptions of psoriatic disease: Results from the Understanding Psoriatic Disease Leveraging Insights for Treatment (UPLIFT) survey. Dermatology and Therapy. 2021.