Do you have scaly, red patches on your elbows or knees? What about really bad dandruff or spots behind your ears? The rash that you may be treating with over-the-counter shampoos and moisturizers may in fact be psoriasis.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, a condition where your body actually gets angry at itself. In this case, your immune cells are attacking your skin, leading to dry, scaly patches. It's determined by your genes (so no, you can't catch it from anyone else), and if a family member has psoriasis, it's more likely that it will happen to you. Psoriasis can pop up anywhere on the body (even on the face or genitals), but it's most common on the elbows, knees, in between the buttocks, the scalp, and behind the ears. In severe cases, it can affect the entire body.
Sadly, psoriasis can be pretty uncomfortable and itchy, even disabling depending on where you get it, and it can really affect how you go about tackling day-to-day activities. And totally separate from how it feels, the way psoriasis looks can be a huge deal. While, again, it's not contagious, psoriasis commonly makes sufferers feel self-conscious and embarrassed. It can interfere with interpersonal and romantic relationships and performance at work and school. It may even be linked to depression.
While we can't cure psoriasis, the good news is we do have good treatments for it. For localized spots, topical treatments are helpful and include cortisone creams, vitamin D treatments, and laser treatments. For more widespread patches, specialized light treatments, oral medication, and injectables can help.
Of course, one of the most well-known treatments now is the cortisone shot after Kim Kardashian was thrown into the spotlight after admitting she has gotten it done. These are shot straight into the muscle—either the butt (like Kim) or the arm—and are sometimes given while you're in the dermatologist's office for severe allergic or inflammatory conditions. A side effect: Thinning of the fat and the skin in the area where it is given, which can result in a big, possibly permanent dent. That's exactly what Kim says happened to her, according to US Weekly. Besides the direct skin effects, psoriasis can actually flare up after the cortisone effect wears off, which are two reasons it's not recommended as a top treatment for psoriasis.
If you think you have psoriasis, make sure to visit a board-certified dermatologist to be evaluated and determine the best course of treatment. You want to make sure that you are as comfortable as you can be in the skin you're in.