What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes raised, red, scaly patches on the skin. It typically affects the elbows, knees or scalp, though it can appear anywhere on the body. It can be itchy, or cause a burning and stinging sensation.
How do you get psoriasis?
While experts do not know what exactly causes psoriasis, we do know that the immune system and genetics play major roles in its development. Usually, something triggers psoriasis to flare. The skin cells in people with psoriasis grow at an abnormally fast rate, which causes the buildup of psoriasis lesions. Psoriasis often develops between the ages of 15 and 35, but it can develop at any age. Psoriasis is not contagious and it is not something you can “catch” or that others can catch from you.
How is psoriasis diagnosed?
There are no special blood tests or tools to diagnose psoriasis. Most commonly, a diagnosis of psoriasis can be made after a full medical history and physical exam is performed by one of our dermatologists. Sometimes, a small sample of skin (biopsy) is taken and examined under a microscope to determine the exact type of psoriasis and to rule out other disorders.
What type of psoriasis do I have?
There are five main types of psoriasis. The most common type is plaque psoriasis which causes thick, scaly plaques that tend to be itchy. The plaques can occur anywhere on the body, but they most commonly occur on the knees, elbows, and scalp. Other types of psoriasis include inverse psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis, and pustular psoriasis. Inverse psoriasis forms in areas where there is a lot of skin-to-skin contact such as the armpits, groin, or underneath the breasts. It causes red, raw patches of skin that can be tender. Guttate psoriasis usually develops secondary to an infection and causes small, scaly, pink spots to form across large areas of skin such as the back and torso. Erythrodermic psoriasis can occur when plaque psoriasis is not well-controlled or can form as a response to a physical stress such as a sunburn. This form of psoriasis causes generalized redness that may coincide with chills and fever. Pustular psoriasis causes pus-filled bumps to occur on the hands and/or feet. If a patient develops generalized pustular psoriasis, these bumps arise across larger areas of skin. After having a comprehensive evaluation by one of our providers, we can help you learn more about your particular type of psoriasis in order to best help you manage it.
Will you develop psoriatic arthritis?
Roughly 11% of patients with psoriasis have also been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. However, approximately 30% of people with psoriasis will eventually develop psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis often may go undiagnosed, particularly in its milder forms. However, it’s important to treat psoriatic arthritis early on to help avoid permanent joint damage. If you need a specialist to manage your psoriatic arthritis, our staff can help refer you to a psoriatic arthritis specialist.
How is your psoriasis treated?
Psoriasis can be treated many ways and each patient responds differently. Treatment options include topical medications and systemic medications. Used alone, creams and ointments that you apply to your skin can effectively treat mild to moderate psoriasis. When the psoriasis is more severe, topical creams can be combined with oral or injected medications. Topical psoriasis treatments include: topical corticosteroids, Vitamin D analogues, topical retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, salicyclic acid, and moisturizers. Oral and injectable medications include: retinoids, methotrexate, cyclosporine, apremilast (otezla) and biologics such as etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), adalimumab (Humira), ustekinumab (Stelara), ixekizumab (taltz), secukinumab (Cosentyx), guselkumab (Tremfya) and others.
Our goal here at Clear Dermatology & Aesthetics Center is to help you best manage your psoriasis with the most advanced treatments and the fewest side effects. If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists to discuss your psoriasis, please call our office and one of our staff will be happy to assist you.