The way to beat psoriasis is to outmaneuver it. Be informed. Be strategic. Be vigilant. We can’t cure it altogether, but we can work with you to minimize its impact on your life.
Conditions and Causes
EXCESSIVE SKIN CELLS CAUSED BY A FAULTY IMMUNE SYSTEM Psoriasis occurs when your immune system mistakenly activates white blood cells (T cells) that cause skin cells to grow too quickly. When these excess cells stack up on the skin’s surface the result is psoriasis.
In order to develop psoriasis you must have inherited a specific mix of genes and you must have experienced a trigger. Stress, winter weather, strep throat, a bad sunburn, or a scratch could be your trigger. Lithium, some blood pressure medications, and some medications to prevent malaria can be triggers, too. Caucasian people get psoriasis more often than others.
Psoriasis is not contagious, but it is a chronic condition with no definitive cure.
- Psoriasis can take many forms:
- Plaque psoriasis Patches of raised, reddish skin covered by silvery white scales. It often forms on the elbows, knees, and lower back, but it can occur anywhere on the skin. Approximately 80 percent of those with psoriasis have this form.
- Scalp psoriasis This has the same appearance as plaque psoriasis, but it appears on the scalp and tends to be very itchy.
- Nail psoriasis What begins as tiny pits in the fingernails or toenails may eventually cause the nails to loosen, thicken, and crumble.
- Guttate psoriasis Characterized by small, red spots on the skin, this type often appears after a sore throat and may clear up on its own after a few weeks or a few months. Guttate psoriasis usually occurs in children and young adults, many of whom never have psoriasis symptoms again.
- Pustular psoriasis White, pus-filled bumps surrounded by red skin usually appear on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. When pustular psoriasis develops all over the body it can lead to a severe and sometimes lifethreatening condition called generalized pustular psoriasis.
- Inverse psoriasis Smooth, red patches form where skin touches skin ™ in the armpit, under the breasts, in the crease of the buttocks, and in the genital area. This condition can be painful.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis Extreme redness and shedding of the skin over a large portion of the body, accompanied by severe itching and pain. This is the least common type of psoriasis and may be life threatening.
There are many options for treating psoriasis. We will discuss these in detail with you, analyze your condition, and work with you to develop a treatment plan that delivers optimal relief with minimal disruption of your lifestyle.
Topical medications Mild to moderate psoriasis can often be controlled with one or more medications applied directly to the skin.
Light therapy A series of light treatments is a safe and effective option for patients who have the time and whose skin is not too sensitive. Laser therapy, ultraviolet B (UVB) light, and ultraviolet A (UVA) light combined with a lightsensitizing agent are among the most effective options.
Systemic medications Taken orally or by injection, these medications work throughout the body to treat moderate to severe psoriasis by decreasing the rate of skin cell growth. Some work by suppressing the immune system. All require close monitoring.
Biologics Regular injections or infusions of biologics over a period of weeks or months can often diminish the symptoms of moderate to severe psoriasis. Biologics are considered a safer option for long-term treatment.
There is no cure for psoriasis, but early intervention, active treatment, and careful management can be effective in controlling signs, symptoms, and progress of the condition.
- To reduce the likelihood of triggering a psoriasis flare-up:
- Avoid triggers Educate yourself about known triggers and those that seem to affect you.
- Document your flare-ups Record stressful events and incidents of damage to your skin to learn what might trigger a flare-up.
- Practice a healthy lifestyle Eat a balanced diet, drink lots of water, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.
- Do not smoke Smoking may trigger an outbreak and aggravate existing psoriasis.
- Limit alcohol Heavy drinking may trigger a flare-up and diminish the effectiveness of treatment.
- Reduce stress Engage in activities that keep you calm: exercise, massage, therapy, counseling, support group participation, etc.
- Take care of your skin Keep skin soft with emollients and moisturizers. Wear cotton clothing next to your skin to avoid irritation and overheating. Practice good sun safety. Take short showers using warm (not hot) water. Use fragrance-free cleansers. Pat your skin dry, instead of rubbing it. Moisturize generously, especially after bathing.
- Avoid scratching, rubbing, irritating the skin Help fight the temptation to scratch by using cold compresses, applying a menthol-based ointment or topical steroid, or soaking in an oatmeal bath.
For More Information