Harvard Women's Health Watch

Bringing psoriasis under control

Treatment can improve the quality of life for people who have this common disorder.

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by thick, raised red patches that are often covered with flaking, silvery scales. Although rarely life-threatening, it can dramatically affect a person's life. In his essay "At War with My Skin," the novelist John Updike, who developed psoriasis as a child, attributed his career choice to the isolating effects of the disease: "Because of my skin," he wrote, "I counted myself out of any of those jobs...that demand being presentable. What did that leave? Becoming a craftsman of some kind, closeted and unseen — perhaps a cartoonist or a writer, a worker in ink who can hide himself and send out a surrogate presence..."

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