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Psoriasis Decision Aid

  • 1. Introduction

    Learn more about psoriasis.

  • 2. My Options

    Read about available treatments.

  • 3. My Skin

    Learn about your psoriasis.

  • 4. My Values

    Express what is important to you.

  • 5. My Trade-offs

    Compare treatments with your values.

  • 6. My Decision

    Your results and next steps.

  • 7. My Resources

    Learn more about psoriasis.


What is a Psoriasis Patient Decision Aid?

Patient decision aids are tools to help patients and doctors make healthcare decisions together. This can help you learn more about psoriasis and compare your options. You can bring the results from this decision aid to your doctor to help make a treatment decision together.

This decision aid explains the treatments available for psoriasis in the United States and Canada. It helps clarify the values that are important for choosing a psoriasis treatment. Many of these treatments may be available in other regions too. Talk to your doctor to see what is available for you.

There are many different types of psoriasis. This decision aid is for plaque psoriasis. For other types of psoriasis, see the more info section below.

  • What is psoriasis?+
    Example of Psoriasis
    Example of psoriasis.

    Example of Plaques of Psoriasis
    Example of plaques of psoriasis.

    Psoriasis is an immune system disease. It causes the skin to develop raised, red, scaly patches. Patches can itch, burn, or sting.

    Psoriasis scales range from small spots to large patches that cover wide areas of skin.

    It usually shows up on the elbows, knees, and scalp. But it can appear on any other body part.

    We all shed skin cells on a regular basis. Healthy skin sheds about every 30 days. Skin with psoriasis can shed every 3-4 days.

    Psoriasis is chronic, meaning it lasts for a long time. Spots can come and go over time.

    Flare-ups are times when your psoriasis gets worse. Most people experience flare-ups as well as times of few or no spots.

    Psoriasis is not contagious.

    • You cannot get it from swimming in a pool with someone with psoriasis.
    • You cannot get it from touching someone with psoriasis.
  • Who gets psoriasis?+

    Psoriasis is common. Approximately half a million Canadians and 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis.

    Psoriasis often develops between age 15 and 35. However, it can happen at any age. It is rare for babies and children to develop psoriasis.

    People from all ethnic groups can develop psoriasis.

    Men and women are both just as likely to get psoriasis.

    We do not know the exact cause of psoriasis. But there are some known risk factors:

    • You have a higher risk of psoriasis if a close relative has it.
    • People with some health conditions (HIV, for example) are more likely to get psoriasis.
  • What can trigger psoriasis?+

    There are many triggers that may lead to flare-ups. These can be different for everyone. Some of the most common are:

    • Infections
      • Such as respiratory infections, tonsillitis, bronchitis, ear infections, and strep throat
    • Skin injuries
      • o Such as sunburns, bug bites, cuts, scrapes, blisters and bruises
    • Stress
    • Dry skin
      • Cold and dry winter weather
    • Some medications
      • Such as Lithium, Antimalaria pills, Quinidine, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and Beta Blockers may lead to flare-ups.
      • Tell your doctor about any medications you take.
    • Hormones
      • Psoriasis sometimes starts around puberty.
      • Pregnancy can make psoriasis better or worse.
    • Substance use
      • Research suggests drinking alcohol and smoking are related to psoriasis. They can make treatment less successful.
  • How might psoriasis affect me?+

    My Body:

    • Patches of psoriasis can be itchy. Scratching itchy patches can make them worse.
    • Sometimes patches can be very painful, and may even bleed.

    My Emotions:

    • People with psoriasis sometimes have low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
    • Up to 60 out of 100 people with psoriasis may experience depression.
      • Treating your psoriasis may help with these feelings.
      • Depression can also be treated. Go see your doctor if you think you might be depressed.

    My Life:

    Example of Back Psoriasis
    Example of back psoriasis.
    • Painful and bleeding patches can make sleep or daily activities harder.
    • Patches on hands and feet can keep people from working, playing sports, doing housework, and caring for loved ones.
    • People with psoriasis, especially severe psoriasis, have a higher risk of developing other health problems. For example:
      • Diabetes
      • Obesity
      • Heart attack and/or stroke
      • Crohn’s disease
      • Liver disease
      • Kidney disease
      • Some forms of cancer
  • What should I do?+

    Learn about psoriasis and possible treatment options. Doing this can help you:

    Example of Elbow Psoriasis
    Example of elbow psoriasis.
    • Prevent flare ups
    • Make informed decisions about treatment
    • Be an active participant in your health care

    Take care of yourself.

    • Exercise and healthy eating are important. This may help with your symptoms.
    • Smoking, drinking, and being overweight can make psoriasis worse.
    • Avoid getting sunburns

    Pay attention to your mood. Get help if you feel depressed or anxious. See your family doctor.

    • Health care professionals can tell you how severe your psoriasis is. They can help guide you through treatment.

    Check out patient organizations for information and support.

  • Patient Info+

Last Updated: August 2020 with support from the Canadian Psoriasis Network