Psoriasis typically presents as red patches on the body with silvery scales. They are commonly found on the elbows, knees or scalp, though it can appear on any location. Some people report that Psoriasis is itchy, burns and stings. Psoriasis can sometimes cause mild to severe joint pain in a condition known as Psoriatic Arthritis.
Psoriasis Treatment Q & A
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that develops when the immune system sends faulty signals that instruct skin cells to grow too rapidly. These fast-growing skin cells can form in a matter in days rather than weeks. When a patient with Psoriasis does not shed these excess cells, they pile up on the top surface of the skin, and manifest as the red, scaly patches characteristic of Psoriasis. It is a genetic condition and cannot be caught through physical contact. There is a type of Psoriasis called Guttate Psoriasis that can result from a Strep infection
What are the diverse types of Psoriasis?
Plaque (psoriasis vulgaris)— This Psoriasis results in raised, red, scaly patches on the skin. The plaques are often found on elbows, knees, scalp and gluteal cleft though they can cover very large areas of the body.
Inverse — Scaly plaques develop in the folds of a patient’s skin in areas such as under the breasts, buttocks, and groin creases and the axillae. Due to heat and skin friction in these areas, the scales tend to fall off, leaving a smooth red area that has the appearance of scalded skin.
Guttate — More common among young adults and children, guttate psoriasis usually occurs with a sudden onset. This occurs most often after a streptococcal pharyngitis infection and appears as drop-like lesions. This can sometime resolve spontaneously but may later result in the development of plaque psoriasis.
Pustular — Generally seen on the scalp, palms and soles of feet however, it can affect the full body in some patients.
Erythrodermic — Often occurs after a stressful event, such as fever, infection, or other significant illness. The skin appears very red and scaly.
How is psoriasis treated?
- Topical therapies — First line treatment for Psoriasis is topical steroids. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition and these topical anti-inflammatories can dramatically improve Psoriasis for most patients. There are many different strengths of steroids that are appropriate for different areas of the body. An adjunct therapy to topical steroids is topical Calcipotriene. It is a form of synthetic vitamin D3 that is formulated to slow skin cell growth, flatten lesions and remove scale. These and gentle but often heavy moisturizers when used appropriately can provide much needed relief for Psoriasis patients.
- Oral therapies — Oral medications can be prescribed to treat Psoriasis. These require regular monitoring through blood work and sometimes, a liver biopsy. Since the drugs used cause severe birth defects, they aren’t prescribed to pregnant women.
- Biological injectable — Some biologicals can be self-administered, while others must be given by a physician or medical staff. They often require yearly monitoring and there are several options available to include but not limited to Stelara, Humira, Enbrel, Taltz and Cosentyx.