According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, psoriasis is “one of the most baffling and persistent of skin disorders.” Simply put, psoriasis is a condition in which skin cells multiply far more quickly than they should (even up to 10 times faster than normal rates). The resulting buildup of skin cells during this process of rapid turnover creates red patches of skin referred to as “plaques” covered with rough, white skin tissue known as “scales”.

In addition to altering the color and texture of skin, psoriasis can be itchy or painful and can even cause psoriatic arthritis. It can occur almost anywhere on the body, including the face or scalp, and can vary widely in severity. For those who experience psoriasis, the condition may be constant or may flare up at particular times. One of the most frustrating things about psoriasis is it’s difficulty to predict. This is largely because psoriasis is caused by particular genes, but it is also contingent upon certain triggers. These triggers are specific to each individual and might include sudden periods of stress, exposure to scrapes or sunburns, and allergic reactions to certain medications. It’s worth noting that there are multiple types of psoriasis, which can possibly be determined with the help of visual guides.

There are a number of medical treatments for psoriasis, including both oral medication and topical treatments. Those who prefer a more natural approach can find relief in remedies like aloe vera, sea salt soaks, and even capsaicin cream derived from cayenne peppers. Once you know what psoriasis is and suspect you might have it, consider scheduling a visit with your doctor.

Read on to learn about one Byrdie editor’s experience with psoriasis and the remedies she uses to ease flare-ups.