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Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a relatively common skin disorder that affects as much as 2 percent of the U.S. population. It is a chronic (continues over time) condition that occurs primarily in adults.

This disorder often appears as red patches covered by silvery scales that can be itchy; however, this is not always the case. Sometimes a biopsy (small sample of tissue) needs to be taken to confirm or rule out psoriasis. A related condition called psoriatic arthritis affects between 10 and 20 percent of those with psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a genetic disorder that is not contagious. It is an autoimmune disorder, which means it appears and spreads when part of the immune system becomes too active. This overactivity causes skin cells in certain areas of the body to multiply rapidly, causing distinctive buildups called plaques. The back, knees and scalp are common sites for plaques. Psoriasis can spread, possibly in response to infection, dry skin and other triggers. It can also go into remission (become inactive and shrink).

Sometimes joint pain accompanies psoriasis. This pain is called psoriatic arthritis. It often includes swelling and tenderness of the affected joints. The ends of the fingers and toes are common sites for psoriatic arthritis, but in more severe cases, it can involve many joints and even the spine.

Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune skin disease that is controllable, but not curable. Indiana University Health dermatologists have specialized training and extensive experience diagnosing and treating psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. We see a large number of people with psoriasis ranging from a few, minor spots to large, disfiguring patches.

Many of our physicians are faculty at Indiana University School of Medicine, the only dermatology training institution in Indiana. We are highly regarded in this field, and conduct research and clinical studies. These studies allow us to offer the latest treatments and clinical trials to our patients before they are available elsewhere.

We use a variety of topical (on the skin) and systemic (inside the body) treatments to reduce the impact of psoriasis on your life and help you manage this condition over time. Psoriasis affects everyone differently, so our treatments are highly personalized.

In addition to the itching and pain psoriasis causes, the plaques can be embarrassing and limit your activities. IU Health dermatologists are sensitive to your particular needs and your feelings about your condition. We work with you to determine the treatment most appropriate for you.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Psoriasis Treatment Information

Treatments for psoriasis vary according to the seriousness of your condition. You can buy some effective topical (on the skin) treatments without a prescription. These include:

We can also prescribe more powerful topical treatments to reduce the size of scales and soothe the itching caused by psoriasis. Some of the most important of these are a class of drugs called corticosteroids. These drugs reduce inflammation and can be a very effective treatment for psoriasis. Corticosteroids can produce side effects, however, so we do not usually prescribe them for long periods of time.

Careful use of ultraviolet (UV) light through light therapy can also reduce the size of plaques.

For large plaques and psoriatic arthritis, we often use systemic drugs. You can take some of these drugs orally; others we give you by injection. Systemic treatments can have unwanted side effects. We help you understand the benefits and risks of these drugs and plan your treatment to have the best long-term outcome for you. Systemic treatments include:

Part of your treatment includes helping you learn routines and adaptations that help control the plaques. Psoriasis is not curable, but our treatments can help you minimize its effects on your life. 


Psoriasis Locations & Physicians

Use the search options below to find treatments available in your area. 

Find a Specialist

Enter a Zip Code to find a specialist at IU Health.


Psoriasis Support Services

To manage your psoriasis, it is important to learn all you can about the condition. These websites offer information and support resources you may find valuable.