Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition marked by periodic flares and remissions.The exact cause of the disease is not known, but we do know it develops in individuals who have an inherited genetic predisposition for psoriasis.
Psoriasis causes skin cells to multiply rapidly causing a build-up of extra cells. Symptoms vary, depending on the type of psoriasis. It can lead to patches – or plaques – of itchy, flaky skin on the body or scalp; nail discoloration, pitting or lose of nails; sores, red rash, or pustular patches or swollen joints accompanied by arthritis symptoms.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition marked by symptoms flares and remissions. Certain triggers can cause symptoms to appear, including the following:
- Infections – bacterial infections, such as strep throat, or other conditions that impact the immune system can lead to psoriasis symptoms
- Stress–emotional stress can trigger an inflammatory response
- Skin injury – sunburn, scratches and other skin injuries can trigger symptoms
- Medications – specific medications can cause psoriasis to worsen. These include: antimalarial drugs, beta-blockers and Lithium
- Diet, allergies and environmental temperatures – are just a few triggers psoriasis sufferers associate with flare-ups
Dermatologists advise those with psoriasis to take care of their skin by practicing good hygiene and protecting it from injury. Eating healthfully and maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce symptom flares.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for psoriasis at this time, but talk with your dermatologist about current treatment options, including:
- Phototherapy (light) – exposing affected areas of skin to ultraviolet light on a regular basis may be beneficial. IMPORTANT: Indoor tanning beds are strongly discouraged. Ultraviolet therapy should be prescribed by your dermatologist and closely monitored. Excimer laser therapy falls under this category and has been shown to be effective
- Topical medications – over-the-counter or prescription medications designed to be applied directly to the skin, including steroids, are considered a first-line treatment option
- Prescription drugs – are useful in the treatment of moderate to severe psoriasis, especially when other treatment forms have failed
- Biologics – given via injection or intravenously (IV), these protein-based drugs work by targeting specific areas of the immune system
- Small-molecule treatments – administered orally, these treatments precisely target certain molecules inside immune cells to tamp-down the immune response. Example: Otezla
By focusing on symptom control and disease management, your dermatologist can help you better manage your psoriasis. If you haven’t seen a dermatologist recently, consider scheduling an appointment. There are new treatment options currently available, and others on the horizon.