Treating Your Psoriasis
The American Academy of Dermatology defines Psoriasis as a chronic disease that “develops when a person’s immune system sends faulty signals that tell skin cells to grow too quickly. New skin cells form in days rather than weeks. The body does not shed these excess skin cells. The skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin, causing patches of psoriasis to appear.”
Although Psoriasis may appear contagious, it is not. A person will not get it by touch, the genes that cause it must be inherited in order to get it.
Psoriasis is an immune mediated skin condition that causes red, thick, and scaly lesions on the skin as a result of inflammation. It most often affects the scalp, elbows and knees, hands, trunk, and legs. There are several types of psoriasis:
- Plaque psoriasis–The most common form is plaque psoriasis which presents as inflamed, red, scaly plaques with white or silvery scale on the skin. It can sometimes be mistaken for eczema. Plaques most frequently develop on the outside of the elbows and knees but are also commonly seen on the scalp, legs, and trunk. Nail involvement is common.
- Guttate psoriasis–Is a form of psoriasis characterized by numerous small red, scaly lesions about the body, especially the trunk and extremities. This form of psoriasis is often preceded by a streptococcal throat infection such as streptococcal pharyngitis.
- Nail psoriasis–Psoriasis can produce several changes in the nail including pitting of the nail, discoloration of the nail, thickening of the nail, loosening of the nail, and crumbling of the nail.
- Inverse psoriasis–typically occurs as more moist, red scaly patches or plaques in the folds of the skin such as the groin, armpits, or under the breasts.
- Drug-induced psoriasis–Many medications have been shown to worsen psoriasis including beta-blockers, lithium, terbinafine, calcium channel blockers, and lipid lowering agents.
- Pustular psoriasis–This form of psoriasis appears as raised, slightly tender red bumps full of pus. It can be localized to the hands and feet. Widespread, severe cases can be seen and are a medical emergency.
- Erythrodermic psoriasis–Is a severe form of psoriasis with widespread red, scaly, exfoliating patches of skin about the body. This form of psoriasis can be fatal as the severe inflammation and exfoliation disrupt the skin’s ability to regulate temperature and protect itself from infection.
- Psoriatic arthritis–Psoriasis can also affect the joints in about 10-15% of psoriasis patients. Psoriatic arthritis produces joint inflammation, most commonly of the fingers and toes. The hips, knees, and spine are also sometimes affected.
Psoriasis is a chronic disease and although there is no cure, psoriasis treatment can be very effective for both the skin and joints. Depending on the severity of symptoms and involvement, a dermatologist may prescribe topical creams, oral medications such as methotrexate or acitretin, home UV phototherapy, or injectable medications such as Enbrel, Humira, or Stelara for more severe symptoms.
Here are some Tips from the American Academy of Dermatology of things you can do to help control your Psoriasis:
- Learn as much as you can about psoriasis, so you can make informed decisions about your treatment.
- Take care of yourself. Activities like smoking, drinking, and over eating can make psoriasis worse.
- Pay attention to your joints. Stiff or sore joints can be the first sign of psoriatic arthritis.
- Pay attention to your nails. Another symptom of psoriatic arthritis can be the nails pulling away from the nail bed or developing ridges, or a yellowish-orange color.
- Pay attention to your mood. Often feelings of depression or anxiety can affect individuals living with psoriasis. Support groups exist to help.
- Tell your dermatologist if you cannot afford the medicine. Many programs exist for different medication to provide financial assistance. To learn more about this assistance, visit Financial Assistance Available for Psoriasis Medication.
- Always talk with your dermatologist before you stop taking medicine for psoriasis. Discontinuing a medication for psoriasis can have serious consequences. Often it can cause one type of psoriasis to turn into another type.
“Psoriasis.” https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/scaly-skin/psoriasis. American Academy for Dermatology. 7 December 2015. Web. 30 December 2015.