Do you have scaly, itchy red patches on your skin that are causing you pain and irritation? Is it embarrassing and affecting your self-esteem? You could have a skin condition called psoriasis. Keep reading to learn about psoriasis and how to treat it.
WHAT IS PSORIASIS?
Psoriasis is an immune system change that causes the skin to regenerate faster than normal. This results in dry, itchy patches of skin. You’ll notice patches on the knees, elbows, and scalp when you have psoriasis. Psoriasis also goes through phases of flare-ups and remissions, which is uncommon.
WHAT CAUSES PSORIASIS?
Unfortunately, what causes psoriasis is not always clear. However, some researchers believe that genetics and attacks on the immune system can be factors that can cause it.
- Genetics: Psoriasis can run in families.
- Immunological: The white blood cells (T-cells), which are part of our immune system, attack healthy skin cells, causing an overproduction of healthy skin cells. That, in turn, leads to rapid growth and build-up of skin cells.
WHAT TRIGGERS PSORIASIS?
While psoriasis is not well understood, we know that many things can trigger or cause flare-ups of psoriasis, including:
- Infections: Strep throat typically triggers psoriasis in children; you may experience a flare-up after an earache, bronchitis, or respiratory infection
- Injury to the skin: Skin that has been injured or traumatized can result in psoriasis flare-ups.
- Stress: Heightened stress can cause flare-ups for the first time or even in existing psoriasis.
- Heavy alcohol use
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Medications: This could include Lithium, beta-blockers, antimalarial drugs, and iodides
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS FOR PSORIASIS?
As psoriasis can appear anywhere on the skin, many different treatments are available. Your dermatologist will choose a treatment based on the type and severity of your psoriasis.
- Topical treatments: Topicals also come in different strengths.
- Skincare products have emollients, which protect, moisturize, and lubricate the skin. You would use this daily. This could include creams, lotions, ointments, or shampoos.
- Depending on the location of your psoriasis, your dermatologist may recommend creams, lotions, or ointments with steroids.
- Calcipotriol is a form of vitamin D. It works by slowing down the growth of skin cells.
- Tazarotene (Tazorac) is a synthetic vitamin A derivative that normalizes the growth of skin cells and can help reduce inflammation.
- Coal tar can help slow the rapid growth of skin cells and restore the skin's appearance.
- Salicylic acid to remove scales
- Phototherapy: Light therapy uses ultraviolet (UV) A or B light to treat psoriasis under the care of a dermatologist. This treatment can also be used in coordination with coal tar.
- Oral medications: These are used to treat moderate to severe psoriasis involving large areas of the body. Due to their potential to cause side effects, they are monitored closely by your dermatologist.
- Biologic therapies: Biologic therapy is a newer treatment used for those who do not respond to other forms of psoriasis treatment. This therapy blocks the immune system, effectively controlling the inflammation that occurs with psoriasis. However, due to their potential to weaken the immune system, they are monitored closely by your dermatologist.
An enzyme inhibitor: An enzyme inhibitor like apremilast (Otezla) is a new drug used for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It's an oral medication that blocks a specific enzyme and slows triggers that might lead to inflammation.
VISIT YOUR DERMATOLOGIST | THE DERMATOLOGY CENTER FOR SKIN HEALTH, PLLC
While it might take time to understand your body’s needs, it is important to understand your psoriasis triggers. Understanding your body is the first step to gaining control over flare-ups and lessening the effects of psoriasis. If you're ready to make an appointment to discuss options for treating psoriasis, or if you have any questions or concerns about your skin health, give us a call at (304) 598-3888 or click here. We're accepting new patients and encourage you to make your appointment soon.
We look forward to hearing from you!