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Q&A : ADVICE FROM EXPERTS UNDERSTANDING SYMPTOMS, COURSE OF PSORIASIS.

About 1 percent to 3 percent of the U.S. population (or 4 million to 7 million Americans) is living with psoriasis, a lifelong skin condition. Although the ailment usually is not life-threatening, it can be unsightly. Psoriasis causes scaling and other skin eruptions on the body.

In an effort to increase awareness about psoriasis, dermatology experts will participate in a public forum on the disease between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Saturday at the Miramar Sheraton Hotel, 101 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica. The forum is part of an educational campaign by the National Psoriasis Foundation. The cost is $5 per person. To register, call (800) 723-9166.

Dr. Edward Jeffes, assistant chief of dermatology at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Long Beach and the foundation based in Portland, Ore., provided the following information.

What is psoriasis?

It's a chronic skin condition. Although there are several types of psoriasis, psoriasis vulgaris (or plaque psoriasis) is the most common.

What are some common symptoms?

The disease primarily causes red or silver scaling plaques on elbows and/or knees, buttocks and scalp. Depending on the individual, plaques vary in size and duration before the skin clears up. There may also be some skin burning and itching.

What causes psoriasis?

Although research continues, the disease involves skin that proliferates more rapidly than usual. In psoriasis, skin cells grow from the bottom to the top layer in three to four days - but we don't know what exactly causes that rapid growth. Normal skin cells' growth takes about a month.

Who does psoriasis seem to target?

Although there's evidence psoriasis is inherited, there doesn't seem to be a specific hereditary pattern. There's also no predisposition for gender. The disease typically begins in the late 20s. And about 25 percent of psoriasis cases occur in adults 55 and older. It rarely affects children.

What treatments or cures are available?

There's no cure, but treatments are available, including drugs and creams. And some patients respond well to ultraviolet light treatments.
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 3, 1997
Words:335
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