Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes red and irritated skin. It is not contagious but it is inherited. Though there is no cure for psoriasis, it can be treated with medications and the symptoms alleviated with creams. Psoriasis usually strikes patients between 15 and 35.
Although doctors have long believed psoriasis had a genetic component, it is only recently that the specific genetic mechanism has started to be uncovered. Earlier discoveries tracked the condition to gene clusters responsible for the outer layers of skin cells. The latest research has found a particular gene, known as CARD14, that appears to be implicated in the condition.
Psoriasis is generally treated with either topical or systemic medication. Topical treatments are applied where psoriasis outbreaks occur. Systemic treatments include methotrexate and cyclosporine, with biologics such as adalimumab given if those prove ineffective. However, a recent study seems to suggest that biologics are not significantly more effective than the more common medications.
If you have irritated, flaky skin, particularly on your elbows or knees, contact your doctor to see if you have psoriasis.