What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder that appears as red, thickened areas of skin with significant scale. It is most commonly located on the elbows, knees, and scalp, but can appear anywhere on the body.
Psoriasis affects up to 5% of the population. It can appear at any age, but most commonly appears at two specific peaks: one at 20-30 years of age and a second peak at 50-60 years. Psoriasis not only affects a patient’s skin, it can also create a significant emotional burden in those who suffer from it.
What Causes Psoriasis?
Despite decades of research, a specific cause is still not known. Psoriasis is an immune-mediated skin disorder. A complex combination of genetics and environmental triggers including stress, trauma to the skin, certain medications, and infections lead to the development of psoriasis.
How Is Psoriasis Diagnosed?
Most cases of psoriasis can be easily identified by a trained dermatology professional with a simple skin exam. In some instances, a skin biopsy is performed to confirm the diagnosis. Numerous other skin conditions including eczema, fungal infections, and other inflammatory skin conditions can have a similar appearance to psoriasis, so it is important to be evaluated by someone familiar with this disease.
What Treatments Are Available?
Fortunately, there are numerous treatments available to those suffering from psoriasis. While there is no definitive cure, there are several highly effective options with more being developed each year. Some of the treatments we most commonly use at the Dermatology Center of Canyon County include:
Topical Steroids: Available in numerous preparations including creams, foams, and sprays , these topical anti-inflammatory medications are a mainstay of treatment in those with mild to moderate psoriasis.
Vitamin D Analogues: Topical medications containing calcipotriene (a form of synthetic Vitamin D) work to slow the growth of skin cells and decrease inflammation. They are most commonly used in combination with topical steroids.
Narrow Band UVB Phototherapy: Ultra Violet light has long been known to improve psoriasis. At our office, we have booths similar to a tanning bed that emit a safe wavelength of UV light to treat psoriasis. For more information, see the NBUVB section of our website.
Oral Medications: Numerous oral medications including methotrexate and soriatane are used as a first-line treatment in those with moderate to severe psoriasis.
Biologics: Medications such as Humira, Enbrel, and Stelara are injected into the skin and provide excellent results in patients not adequately controlled with treatments listed above.
If you have psoriasis, please call and schedule an appointment with one of our dermatology providers. Psoriasis doesn’t have to be a burden in your life, and we will be happy to create a treatment plan to make that possible.