Psoriasis Skin Disease
Psoriasis is a serious medical condition affecting the autoimmune system that affects about 7.5 million Americans. It occurs when the immune system sends faulty signals, causing skin cells to grow too quickly. The extra skin cells create a layer on the skin characterized by patches of scaly, itchy white skin.
Psoriasis is not contagious. It is an inherited condition and can be triggered by stimulants like stress, certain medications, strep throat, cold or dry weather, and cuts, scratches or sunburns.
Types of Psoriasis Skin Disease
This is the most common type of psoriasis skin disease; nearly 80 percent of people with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis. It causes raised, reddened skin with white scales and often forms on elbows, knees and the lower back.
Scalp psoriasis is identical to plaque psoriasis except for its location on the scalp. It is often confused with dandruff and can be difficult to control.
Nail psoriasis is identified by tiny pits in the nails. It can cause nails to thicken, loosen, and eventually crumble. This is often indicative of psoriatic arthritis.
Guttate psoriasis skin disease usually occurs in children and young adults. Characterized by small red spots on the skin, it frequently follows a sore throat and heals on its own.
This type of psoriasis skin disease appears as white, pus-filled bumps surrounded by red skin. Pustular psoriasis can cause severe or sometimes life-threatening psoriasis.
Inverse psoriasis causes painful, smooth red patches in the folds of the skin, such as the armpits, under the breasts, and in the creases of the buttocks and genital area.
This is the least-common type of psoriasis skin disease and it is the most dangerous. Erythrodermic psoriasis causes severe redness and skin shedding over large areas of the body. It resembles a burn. Severe itching and pain often accompany erythrodermic psoriasis.
Psoriasis Treatment Options
Treatment options include:
Over-the-Counter (OTC) Topical Medications
OTC topical psoriasis treatments work to relieve itching and scaling. Moisturizing ointments provide relief; coal tar reduces inflammation, slows skin cell growth, and relieves itching; and salicylic acid works as a peeling agent to remove scales from the skin.
Prescription Topical Medications
Prescription psoriasis medications slow skin cell growth, reduce inflammation, and may suppress the immune system to relieve psoriasis symptoms. Your Water’s Edge dermatologist may recommend corticosteroids, retinoids, or other non-steroidal medications to control your psoriasis.
Oral medications are absorbed into the blood and reach the deep layers of the skin. These psoriasis treatments are used for moderate to severe psoriasis in patients whose psoriasis lesions do not respond to topical medications.
Oral medications suppress the immune system and are fast-acting to control pustular or erythrodermic psoriasis. Patients must be monitored closely for side effects while taking these psoriasis treatments.
Controlled exposure to ultraviolet rays suppresses T-cell activity in the immune system and slows skin cell growth. Phototherapy psoriasis treatments utilize lasers, light boxes, or phototherapy kits.
- Ultraviolet light B (UVB) phototherapy slows growth of affected skin cells
- Psoralen and ultraviolet light A (PUVA) increases sensitivity to light and slows skin cell growth
- Excimer laser emits a high-intensity beam of UVB to treat localized, chronic psoriasis
- Pulsed dye lasers destroy the tiny blood vessels contributing to the formation of psoriasis lesions
Biologic Injections / Infusions
Biologic psoriasis treatments are medications derived from human or animal proteins that target the specific parts of the immune system that transmit messages between immune cells. This approach controls the immune system activity and slows skin cell growth.
Current biologic medications approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and available only by prescription include adalimumab (Humira®), etanercept (Enbrel®), and infliximab (Remicade®).
Because psoriasis skin disease is an inherited condition, psoriasis cannot be prevented. However, there are some steps you can take to control your psoriasis.
- Live a healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, drink alcohol in moderation and refrain from smoking.
- Monitor your joints for signs of psoriatic arthritis.
- Follow your treatment plan faithfully.
- Take steps to eliminate or control psoriasis triggers.
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