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What Is Psoriasis And How To Treat It?

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What Is Psoriasis And How To Treat It?

Psoriasis is a skin condition that commonly affects most of the people. Psoriasis changes the life cycle of skin cells while causes them to rapidly build up on the surface of the skin. As a result, the extra skin cells form thick, silvery scales which become dry, itchy and red patches on the affected skin. The condition can be treated with the goal to stop the growth of skin cells and the various treatment options provide a significant relief. Let’s see an overview of Psoriasis, what is Psoriasis, how to treat Psoriasis its symptoms, types, causes, risk factors and treatment:   

What is Psoriasis?

It is a non-contagious skin disease and is most persistent, characterized by red, scaly plaques. It develops when immune system sends out faulty signals to skin cells which results in new skin cells over-production. As a result, skin cells multiply 10 times faster than normal. The underlying cells reach skin surface and die, their total volume causes raised white covered scales red plaques.  It typically occurs on elbows, knees, scalp, palms, soles and face along with some other body parts.

What are common symptoms of Psoriasis?

The symptoms of Psoriasis vary from person to person and also depend on the type but most of the patients may have one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Red patches covered with silvery scales
  • Small scaling spots (common in children)
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
  • Itching, soreness and burning sensation
  • Stiff and swollen joints

What are the types of Psoriasis?

Following are the main types of Psoriasis:

Plaque Psoriasis:

It is most common type which causes red inflamed raised skin covered with white silvery scales. These plaques may itch, burn and painful and can occur anywhere on the body. These plaques can be few or many.

Guttate Psoriasis:

It is common in children and young adults. It is normally triggered by bacterial infection such as strep throat (infection at back of throat). It causes small water drop shaped sores on the skin of your arms, legs, trunk and scalp. These sores are covered by fine scale and they are not thick like typical plaques.

Inverse Psoriasis:

In this type, bright red, shiny, inflamed and smooth patches without scales are developed. It commonly affects the skin in armpits, under the breasts, in the groin and around the genitals. This condition can be worsened by sweating and friction.  

Erythrodermic Psoriasis:

It is very least common type and it can be serious. It can cover your entire body and causes widespread skin which looks burned with severe itching and peeling.

Nail Psoriasis:

This type causes discoloration, pitting and abnormal nail growth that affects fingernails and toenails. The affected nails become loose and separate from nail bed and in severe cases, the nail can crumble.  

Psoriatic Arthritis:

In this type, you have both Psoriasis and Arthritis. It leads to discolored and pitted nails with pain, stiffness and swelling in joints. Its symptoms can range from mild to severe and it can affect any joint.

Scalp Psoriasis:

This type appears as itchy, red areas with silvery-white scales on the scalp. Often, these itchy areas can extend beyond the hairline. When you scratch your scalp, flakes of dead skin appear in your hair or on the shoulders.

Pustular Psoriasis:

It is uncommon type which usually occurs in widespread patches or in smaller areas on hands, feet or fingertips. It develops quickly with pus-filled blisters while you skin becomes red and tender.

What are Psoriasis causes?

Various factors can cause the condition, which include:

  1. According to recent research, the key cause is some abnormality in immune system.
  2. Majority of doctors believe that stress or emotional trauma act as triggers for defect in immune system.
  3. Injured skin, drugs, certain type of blood-pressure and anti-malarial medications can also cause the condition.
  4. It is also inherited but it can skip generations, like a grandfather and grandson can be affected but not child’s mother.
  5. Flare is called as period of worsening. It is uncomfortable, more painful. Common triggers of Psoriasis flares are stress, infections, medications, skin injury, some skin diseases, cold/dry climate, hormones and smoking.

What are the risk factors of Psoriasis?

Family history, viral and bacterial infections, obesity, stress and smoking are some of the factors that can increase your risk of developing the condition.

How is Psoriasis treated?

The doctor devises a treatment plan according to the type, severity of the condition and the affected skin areas. Usually, the treatment starts with mildest treatment options which include topical creams and light therapy and then it progresses to strong treatment options, if necessary. The goal of the Psoriasis treatment is to stop the growth of skin cells which reduces inflammation and the plaque formation. Secondly, the treatment also focuses on removing the scales and making the skin smooth. There are three main treatment options which include topical treatment, light therapy and oral drugs or injections.

Topical treatment:

Several creams and ointments can treat mild to moderate Psoriasis. When the condition is more severe then oral medications and light therapy is used along with creams. All these topical medications should be taken with doctor’s prescription.

Salicylic acid:  It promotes shedding of dead skin cells and reduces scaling.

Coal tar: It is the oldest treatment option for Psoriasis while reducing the itching, inflammation and scaling.

Moisturizers: Although moisturizing creams can’t treat Psoriasis but they can reduce scaling and itching and also reduces the dryness.   

Topical corticosteroids: They are anti-inflammatory drugs that treat mild to moderate Psoriasis. They slow the cell growth by suppressing immune system. The potency of these drugs can be mild and very strong.

Vitamin D analogues: The prescription creams and solutions containing vitamin D analogue used to treat mild to moderate Psoriasis and slow down the quick growth of skin cells.

Anthralin: This medication normalizes DNA activity in skin cells and removes the scales while making the skin smooth.

Topical retinoids: Tazarotene (Tazorac, Avage) was developed specifically to treat Psoriasis. It normalizes DNA activity in skin cells and decreases the inflammation.

Light therapy or phototherapy:

In this treatment option, the doctor uses natural or artificial ultraviolet (UV) light and expose the affected skin to controlled amount of natural UV light (sunlight). Some other forms of light therapy include the use of artificial ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB) light.

Sunlight: When UV rays are directed to the affected skin, the cells of immune system in the skin die which results in slowing the skin cells growth and reducing scaling and inflammation. 

UVB phototherapy: In this therapy, controlled amount of UVB light from artificial light source is used to treat mild to moderate Psoriasis. It is also called as broadband UVB therapy.

Goeckerman therapy: This therapy involves the combination of UVB therapy and coal tar treatment because both the treatments can effectively treats the condition.

Photochemotherapy or psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA): It involves taking light-sensitizing medication, mainly psoralen, before exposing the affected skin to UVA light. UVA penetrates deeper into the skin than UVB and psoralen is used because it makes the skin more responsive to UVA exposure. This treatment is used for severe cases of Psoriasis.

Oral or injected medications:

If the condition becomes severe or if it didn’t treat with other options then the doctor prescribes oral or injected drugs. As these drugs have severe side effects, so they can be used for brief time periods and may be changed with other forms of treatment. Some of these drugs are retinoids, methotrexate, cyclosporine and drugs that alter immune system (biologics).    

Contact Marie Hayag, MD for the treatment of Psoriasis:

So, if you are experiencing the symptoms of Psoriasis then immediately see the highly recommended board certified dermatologist Dr. Marie in NYC. She has extensive years of experience in treating patients with various cosmetic and medical dermatological problems and so she can effectively tailor a treatment plan that contains the best treatment options that ensure the best control of your symptoms.

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