What Everyone Should Know About Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic condition of inflammation of the skin. There are many different types of psoriasis. The most common form, plaque psoriasis, appears as raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells. The cause of psoriasis is unknown, but it is often associated with other serious health conditions such as psoriatic arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and depression. Psoriasis is not contagious.
In most cases, your doctor can diagnose psoriasis based on visual inspection. Psoriasis may seem similar to eczema, but there are some key differences. Eczema typically occurs on locations that are not common for psoriasis, such as the front of elbows or behind the knees. Psoriasis is most often found on the outside of knees and elbows, the scalp, the lower back, the face, the palms and soles of feet. It can also affect the nails.
There are a number of things patients can do to help their psoriasis and reduce the risk of associated health conditions:
· Quit smoking
· Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise
· Reduce alcohol consumption
· Reduce stress as that can be a trigger of psoriasis
While there is no cure for psoriasis there are many effective treatment options available to keep the condition under control. What works for one person might not work for another, so it's important to be aware of different treatment alternatives to find the option that works best for you:
· Topical treatments – various creams, lotions and gels (often steroids or Vitamin D)
· Phototherapy – medical light therapy
· Systemic Treatments – e.g., methotrexate, acitretin, cyclosporine
· Biologic Treatments – e.g., etanercept (Enbrel), adalimumab (Humira), infliximab (Remicade), ustekinumab (Stelara)
Coping with psoriasis can have a profound effect on a patient, but the good news is that in most cases it can be managed with the right combination of therapies on the treatment ladder. The appearance, itch, and arthritis associated with psoriasis all can have a significant impact on the quality of life. Biologic drugs have been shown to be effective for all of these features. I would also recommend that patients keep skin moisturized with a heavy cream or ointment to reduce itch and help maintain the skin barrier.
Fortunately, a lot of research and development dollars have gone into finding effective therapies for psoriasis, and with the current and future biologics coming onto the marketplace, patients can have a good quality of life with well-controlled psoriasis.
A great resource for additional information is the National Psoriasis Foundation.