Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes rapid skin cell production which results in large red, dry, flaky, and extremely itchy patches of skin. It is said to affect more than 2.2% of Americans and 1% to 3% of the worlds population. Psoriasis is characterized by periodic flare-ups of red patches that are usually covered by silvery, flaky skin. The exact cause of psoriasis is still unknown and there is no cure as of yet, but most researchers believe that a combination of several factors contributes to the development of this disease.
Things like heredity, overactive immune systems, and environmental as well as physiological triggers seem to effect flare-ups. Psoriasis is a skin disease or infection that is believed to be caused when the immune system becomes triggered and shifts into overdrive. This causes a persons immune system produces more white blood cells than it normally does.
Because of this, the skin cannot grow normally, this results in large scaly patches and extremely dry and itchy skin all throughout the affected area. In most people who suffer from Psoriasis, it seems that they most likely inherited the disease, and it usually presents during young adulthood or after a viral infection like strep throat triggers short, small attacks of Psoriasis. It is estimated that one third of all Psoriasis sufferers have a family member that also has it.
Psoriasis actually has many different ways that it can appear. It may show up as either small flattened bumps, large thick plaques of raised skin, red patches, and pink mildly dry skin to big flakes of dry skin that simply flake off. Psoriasis Vulgaris is the most common type, but others include Guttate Psoriasis which are small droplet like lesion, Inverse Psoriasis which appears in the underarm, navel, and buttocks, Pustular Psoriasis which are small yellowish fluid filled blisters, and Palmoplantar Psoriasis which primarily affects the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
Psoriasis can also be associated with joint problems in about 10%-35% of patients. This type of joint based Psoriasis is called Psoriatic Arthritis. In fact, sometimes joint pains maybe the only sign of this type of disorder with completely clear skin.
Inflammation can occur in any joints (arthritis), although the joints of the hands, knees, and ankles tend to be most commonly affected.
Treatments are based on the severity of each individual person with the disease and how it responded to prior treatments. The lowest level of treatment would be a topical medication that is applied to the affected skin.
Topical Corticosteroids come in many preparations, including sprays, liquid, creams, gels, ointments, and mousses. Steroids come in many different strengths, including stronger ones are used for elbows, knees, and tougher skin areas and milder ones for areas like the face, underarms, and groin. The next step might involve treatments with ultraviolet light (phototherapy).
There are several types of traditional medical light therapies called PUVA, UVB, and narrow band UVB. The next step would be to start taking oral medications. Oral medications include acitretin, cyclosporine, methotrexate, mycophenolate mofetil, and others. Oral prednisone (corticosteroid) is generally not used in psoriasis and may cause a disease flare if administered to many patients. Treatments are often combined to maximize effectiveness, or they might get switched around every 12 to 24 months to help aid against resistance and adverse reactions. It is important to keep in mind that as with any medical condition, all medications carry possible side effects. No medication is 100% effective for everyone, and no medication is 100% safe. Overall, the prognosis for most patients with psoriasis is good. While it is not curable, it is controllable with a good treatment plan designed by your local Portland Psoriasis Specialist.