Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease which can also affect the joints (psoriasis arthritis). Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. The body’s own immune system attacks its own cells for reasons still unknown. Silver-white, scaly and itchy nodes on the skin are the characteristic clinical picture of psoriasis. The disease typically proceeds in episodes.
Approx. 2% of the population in Switzerland is affected by psoriasis. The exact cause of the autoimmune reaction which occurs in patients with psoriasis is unknown. The predisposition seems to be hereditary in nature. Certain factors such as mechanical itching of the skin, bacterial infection as well as particular medications can contribute to the occurrence of psoriasis.,
Psoriasis can vary in severity from person to person, and also affect the joints in some people. Silver-white, scaly, itchy skin changes, usually on the inside of the elbow and on the knee joint, belong to the typical clinical typical picture of psoriasis. Certain forms of psoriasis can also cause blisters to form on the skin. The tendons or the spine can also be affected in addition to the joints. In contrast to rheumatoid arthritis, the affect on the joints is usually not symmetric; this means that the joints are only affected on one side.
Psoriasis can often already be diagnosed on the basis of the typical skin changes. In cases of doubt, the diagnosis can be confirmed with a tissue sample. If the patient has suspected psoriasis arthritis, further examinations such as x-ray imaging, an MRI or an ultrasound can be necessary.
Psoriasis arthritis cannot be cured. However, with the medication available today, the disease can be controlled well with virtually no symptoms. The choice of medication depends on the stage of the disease and the severity of the symptoms. If the psoriasis arthritis has caused extensive deterioration of the joints, surgery may be necessary.