Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder affecting more than 4.5 million men and women. It tends to come and go unpredictably. Psoriasis is not infectious and does not result in scarring. It is a long-lasting skin disorder which develops when your immune system sends faulty signals which tell your skin cells to grow too fast.
Psoriasis is a genetic skin disease, so people are more likely to develop psoriasis than others if there is someone else in their family who has it. Psoriasis is often triggered by events like throat infection, stress or an injury to the skin, or dry weather. There is no psoriasis treatment that results in a permanent cure. However, there are effective psoriasis treatments that can control the signs and symptoms of this condition.
When you have psoriasis, your new skin cells form in days instead of weeks, and your body cannot shed these excess cells. The rapid cell reproduction then piles up on the surface of your skin resulting in red or pink areas of raised, dry, silvery patches or thickened plaques of raised skin. It might also have the appearance of flattened bumps or dry skin with large flakes.
Psoriasis commonly affects the skin on the elbows, knees, and scalp, but it can be found anywhere on the body. It is also common in areas of repeated rubbing and constant use.
Types of Psoriasis
There are several different types of psoriasis, and some people get more than one type. Some patients start with one type of psoriasis but it can later change to a different type.
- Plaque or psoriasis vulgaris—The most common type of psoriasis characterized by thick, red patches of skin covered by flaky, silver-white scales.
- Guttate Psoriasis—Small, pink-red spots on the skin.
- Inverse Psoriasis (also known as Flexural Psoriasis or Intertriginous Psoriasis)—Skin redness and irritation on the armpits, groin, navel, buttocks, and in between overlapping skin.
- Pustular Psoriasis—White blisters surrounded by red, irritated skin, and small, liquid-filled, yellowish blisters.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis—Very intense skin redness covering a large area.
- Palmoplantar Psoriasis—A separate entity is often affecting the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
About 80% of people living with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis or psoriasis vulgaris.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Psoriasis?
Psoriasis can appear slowly or suddenly. In many cases, the condition goes away and flares up again repeatedly over time.
Symptoms of psoriasis may include:
- Itching where the psoriasis patches are located
- Joint pain or arthritis
- Nail changes
- Severe dandruff
- Genital lesions
The first symptoms of plaque psoriasis appear as very small red dots. These eruptions slowly get larger, producing a silvery white surface scale that sheds easily. The patches are typically spread over wide expanses of skin and are intensely itchy, painful, dry or cracking, and swollen.
Thanks to ongoing research, there are many psoriasis treatments available today. Some people see their skin clear completely after their psoriasis treatment.
Every psoriasis treatment has benefits, drawbacks, and possible side effects, but our dermatologists at Comprehensive Dermatology Center of Pasadena specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of psoriasis. We can help you find a psoriasis treatment that works for you and fits your lifestyle.
Some topical or skin applied medications include:
- Topical corticosteroids
- Vitamin D analogue creams such as Dovonex
- Topical retinoids such as Tazorac
- Topical immunomodulators such as Tacrolimus and Pimecrolimus
- Coal tar
Some oral medications useful in treating psoriasis are:
- Acitretin or Soriatane
- Mycophenolate Mofetil
- Oral Prednisone
There is no known way to prevent psoriasis, but keeping the skin clean and moist and avoiding your specific psoriasis triggers may help reduce the number of flare-ups. Although your dermatologist recommends daily baths or showers, you shouldn’t scrub too hard since this can irritate the skin and trigger a psoriasis attack. Your dermatologist will usually begin with the mildest therapy and work up to the most effective psoriasis treatment to help you clear up your psoriasis.
Psoriasis Treatment – Biologics
Biologics are a type of treatment for moderate to severe psoriasis that’s delivered via injection or IV. These drugs are protein-based and created using live cultures. Unlike oral medications that enter all the body systems, biologics target special parts of the immune system. This form of psoriasis treatment blocks specific types of cells or proteins in the immune system that are known to be involved in the development of psoriasis. They are often combined with other treatments.
Some of the most common biologics include:
- Enbrel, Humira, and Remicade, which all block TNF-alpha, a protein that causes inflammation in the body. For people with psoriasis, there is an excessive amount of TNF-alpha that causes the condition’s rapid cell growth.
- Stelara targets specific proteins called IL-12 and IL-23 that are known to cause the inflammation of psoriasis. A doctor or nurse at our center injects this drug under the skin.
- Cosentyx inhibits a particular protein called IL-17A that causes the plaque associated with psoriasis when there is too much of it in the immune system. We inject under the skin at our center like Stelara, Cosentyx.
Call Comprehensive Dermatology Center of Pasadena today for an examination of your skin or to consult with us if you have been diagnosed with skin cancer.
Narrow Band UV Psoriasis Treatment
UV psoriasis treatment is sometimes called phototherapy and light therapy. These psoriasis treatments essentially expose the skin to therapeutic ultraviolet light. Repetition is the key. With regular treatments, the UVB rays slow the cell growth which leads to psoriasis eruptions.
Narrow band UV psoriasis treatment refers to a small range of ultraviolet light. There are broad band psoriasis treatments as well, but narrow band tends to work more quickly and last longer. The light is administered in a small booth several times per week for short periods. This psoriasis treatment can cause redness and itching for a short time after the first appointments.
We often combine UV psoriasis treatment with other types of treatments. Note that the narrow band UV psoriasis treatment is not the same as tanning, and tanning beds are not a substitute for an effective psoriasis treatment.
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