WHAT IS PSORIASIS?
Psoriasis is a life-long, skin condition that can increase the life cycle of an individual’s skin cells, meaning the skin cells rapidly build-up, which forms scales and red patches that can be painful and even itchy.
While psoriasis can’t be cured, it can be effectively treated, which will slow down the growth of skin cells.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PSORIASIS?
There are multiple types of psoriasis, and while there may be some common symptoms, most are based on the specific type of psoriasis.
Types of psoriasis include:
- Plaque psoriasis (the most common form)
- Nail psoriasis
- Guttate psoriasis
- Inverse psoriasis
- Pustular psoriasis
- Erythrodermic psoriasis
- Psoriatic arthritis
To determine the type of psoriasis you have, your dermatologist will perform a skin exam, as well as speak with you about your history.
The most common symptoms include:
- Red patches covered with thick, silvery scales
- Small scaly spots (common in children)
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- Itching, burning and soreness
- Thickened, pitted, or ridged nails
- Swollen and stiff joints
WHAT CAUSES PSORIASIS?
Unfortunately, what causes psoriasis isn’t always clear; however, some researchers believe that genetics and attacks on the immune system can cause this.
- 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 the cause of psoriasis isn’t well understood, we do know that many things can trigger or cause flare-ups of your 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
HOW IS PSORIASIS DIAGNOSED?
While there are no tests that can diagnose psoriasis, a dermatologist can examine the affected area and determine the diagnosis. During your examination, a biopsy may be warranted to rule out other skin conditions and to determine the type of psoriasis.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS FOR PSORIASIS?
As psoriasis can appear anywhere on the skin, there are many different treatments that 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 that 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 form of 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. 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 kind of drug that can be used for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It's an oral medication that blocks a specific enzyme, which slows triggers that might lead to inflammation.
OUTCOMES FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE PSORIASIS
Psoriasis can be a serious health issue that should not be ignored. If you have additional questions about psoriasis, our dermatologists can answer those for you and help you find the best treatment for you. Request an appointment by filling out the form below.