Psoriasis is a disorder that affects the skin and joints. It commonly causes red scaly patches to appear on the skin. The scaly patches caused by psoriasis, called psoriatic plaques, are areas of inflammation and excessive skin production.
Skin rapidly accumulates and takes on a silvery-white appearance. Plaques frequently occur on the skin of the elbows and knees, but can affect any area including the scalp and genitals. Although its appearance may suggest otherwise, Psoriasis is not contagious.
The disorder is a chronic recurring condition that varies in severity from minor localized patches to complete body coverage. Fingernails and toenails are frequently affected. Psoriasis can also cause inflammation of the joints, which is known as psoriatic arthritis. Ten to fifteen percent of people with psoriasis have psoriatic arthritis.
The cause of psoriasis is not known, but it is believed to have a genetic component. Over 7.5 million Americans suffer from Psoriasis. It is thought to be one of the following:
Several factors are thought to aggravate psoriasis. These include:
Individuals with psoriasis may suffer from depression and loss of self-esteem. As such, quality of life is an important factor in evaluating the severity of the disease. There are many treatments available but because of its chronic recurrent nature psoriasis is a challenge to treat.
In psoriasis, an activated immune system triggers the skin to reproduce every three to four days, building up on the outer layers (epidermis and keratin). The epidermis thickens, blood flow increases and reddens the skin, and silver-gray scales cover it.
A diagnosis of psoriasis is usually based on the appearance of the skin. There are no special blood tests or diagnostic procedures for psoriasis. Sometimes a skin biopsy, or scraping, may be needed to rule out other disorders and to confirm the diagnosis. Skin from a biopsy will show clubbed Rete pegs if positive for psoriasis. Another sign of psoriasis is that when the plaques are scraped, one can see pinpoint bleeding from the skin below.
Psoriasis has been shown to affect health-related quality of life to an extent similar to the effects of other chronic. Depending on the severity and location of outbreaks, individuals may experience significant physical discomfort and some disability. Itching and pain can interfere with basic functions, such as self-care, walking, and sleep. Plaques on hands and feet can prevent individuals from working at certain occupations, playing some sports, and caring for family members or a home.
The frequency of medical care is costly and can interfere with an employment or school schedule. Individuals with psoriasis may also feel self-conscious about their appearance and have a poor self-image that stems from fear of public rejection and psychosexual concerns. Psychological distress can lead to significant depression and social isolation.
Topical ointments and creams may be selected as a first tier effective treatment. The aim is to normalize the production of skin cells and reduce inflammation.These topicals may include coal tar derivatives or dithanoid – which decrease ‘energy’ to the cells and slows cell production; corticosteroid creams (such as Topicort) – which reduce and moderate inflammation; Vitamin D3 – which lessens lesion count; and retinoids . which regulate cell activity.
Often light therapy, employing the narrow band of UVB, is used to assist in remission of Psoriasis. Most often light therapy (or phototherapy as it is sometimes called) is used along with topical treatments for its synergistic effect.
Biologics are manufactured proteins that interrupt the immune process involved in psoriasis. The most recognized brand name of biologic for Psoriasis is Enbrel. Treatment with biologics is generally a top tier treatment as side effects from organ toxicity can occur. Treatments are by weekly injection. The FDA has approved the use of Enbrel for children with moderate to severe Psoriasis.
Careful monitoring is required, but if the severity of your Psoriasis calls for a systemic medication such as Enbrel, physicians and trained medical staff at Dermatology Group of Southern California, Inc. can discuss the treatment program.
Psoriasis is a lifelong condition. There is currently no cure but various treatments can help to control the symptoms. The goal of Dermatology Group of Southern California, Inc. is to bring patients as much relief as is possible through a carefully planned and monitored program of effective treatments.
Here are some useful links which give more information regarding Psoriasis:
*For any procedure and service described on this website, individual results may vary and may not be applicable in all cases.