What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that is characterized by reoccurring flare-ups associated with a rheumatic disease. Flare-ups, or inflammation, are caused by an increased rate of cell turnover. Normal skin cells turn over at a rate of every 24 days. But, in patients with psoriasis, this happens nearly ten times faster, which causes inflammation and a pileup of old, dead skin cells because the body cannot expel them at pace with the rate of growth. This process usually results in redness, thickening of the skin, and flakiness.
What Causes Psoriasis
There are many different factors that are believed to cause psoriasis in some people, which most commonly includes your genetics in relation to your immune system. Certain factors or conditions that affect your immune system can cause psoriasis to occur, although this can sometimes be different for each person. Other causes can include things like hormonal changes, certain medications, or lifestyle factors like alcohol, nicotine use, or sun exposure. Overall, not much is known about the exact causes of psoriasis or why it affects some patients more than others. You can be assured, however, that it does not spread through contact.
What Are My Treatment Options?
Much like rosacea, there is no cure for psoriasis, but there are treatments that can help manage its symptoms. Topical creams such as prescription-grade cortisone and soothing oatmeal baths can help calm the skin and ease any discomfort or irritation. Depending on the severity, oral immunosuppressive therapies may be recommended as well.
During a consultation with Dr. Diggs, you may discuss treatment options that are best for you, which can include the following:
Topical Corticosteroids– These drugs are the most commonly prescribed for treatment of mild to moderate psoriasis. They work by reducing inflammation and itching, and can be used on sensitive areas of skin. Topical corticosteroids should only be used for a short time, as overuse can cause thinning of the skin.
Vitamin D Analogues– These are synthetic forms of vitamin D that slow down skin cell growth. Most commonly available in a prescription cream called Calcipotriene (Dovonex), it treats mild to moderate psoriasis.
Light Therapy– Light therapy, or phototherapy, uses natural or artificial UV light to treat skin conditions. Common forms for treating psoriasis include UVB phototherapy, narrow band UVB phototherapy, and Psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA). These lights penetrate the skin, reducing scaling and inflammation.
Retinoids– Retinoids can be used to treat severe psoriasis that hasn’t responded to other therapies. These treatments should not be used in those who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant.
Methotrexate– This oral medication helps to reduce the production of skin cells and suppressed inflammation. It is generally well-tolerated in low doses, but should not be used for long periods of time.
Biologics– These drugs work by altering the immune system, and are approved to treat moderate to severe psoriasis. Usually, these drugs are given by injection in those who have failed to respond to traditional therapy.
Schedule a Consultation
Overall, the type of treatment that will benefit you most will be determined during your consultation with Dr. Diggs who can assess your symptoms and professionally recommend a treatment plan. If you are living with psoriasis and are interested in learning about your possible treatment options, contact our office today by calling or filling out our online form.