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Psoriasis is believed to be an immune mediated disease which affects the skin and joints. It commonly causes red scaly plaques to appear on the skin. The scaly patches caused by psoriasis, called psoriatic plaques or lesions, are areas of excessive skin production and inflammation. Skin rapidly accumulates at these sites and takes a silvery-white appearance. Plaques frequently occur on the skin of the elbows and knees, but can affect any area including the scalp and genitals.
Psoriasis is not contagious. It is a recurring condition which varies in severity from minor localized patches to complete body coverage. Fingernails and toenails are frequently affected. Psoriasis can also cause inflammation of the joints, which is known as psoriatic arthritis. The cause of psoriasis is not known, but it is believed to run in families.