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What is Psoriasis?


Psoriasis on a person's foot
Psoriasis on a person’s foot

Dermatologists deal with many patients who have been diagnosed with a skin disease called psoriasis. This skin condition has certain symptoms which are very common to those who suffer with it. Psoriasis can cause pain, inflammation, and scaling. Normally there is a process called cell turnover where over a period of time new skin cells grow deep under the skin and slowly come up to the surface. When an individual has psoriasis, the cells rise to the surface too quickly and then they pile up on the surface of the skin. Most of the time this is displayed on the surface as thick, red and scaly patches which can feel very sore or become itchy. Many times these unpleasant patches are discovered on the knees, elbow, or areas of the legs, face, palms, lower back, scalp or soles of the feet. However, they can also be found in other areas like toenails and fingernails, inside the mouth or in the genital area.

Selecting a Treatment Option for Psoriasis

The dermatologist will decide which treatment procedure is likely to be the most effective for an individual based on certain criteria. For instance, it may depend on how serious the disease is, how large the individual psoriasis patches are, and the type of psoriasis and how the patient typically reacts to various types of treatments. There is no set treatment plan that will work effectively for every single person affected. A dermatologist may even switch to another treatment plan if one is not working, or if there are any adverse reactions.

Psoriasis Treatment Options

Treatment options include topical creams, light therapy and systemic treatments. Topical treatment options are creams or ointments that are applied directly to the skin. Sometimes these can help reduce inflammation and slow skin cell turnover. It can suppress the immune system and help the skin peel off as well as unclog the pores. Some types of creams work to soothe the skin. Light therapy is an artificial type of ultraviolet light which is used to treat psoriasis. Systemic treatments may be used when the psoriasis is in a very severe state. These are treatments given by injection. Antibiotics are not typically used for treatment of psoriasis unless there are bacteria which make the condition worsen. Sometimes a dermatologist will use a combination of therapies. When topical, systemic and light treatments are combined lower doses of each one can be used. Many times using a combination of therapies can yield better end results.

Can psoriasis be prevented?

There can be several causes of psoriasis like infections, stress and certain medications. Something as simple as a weather change can cause the skin to dry out and psoriasis to occur. Family history seems to play a major role in whether or not an individual will develop this uncomfortable skin disease. While it may not be prevented altogether, there are some ways which can help reduce its negative effects. Using moisturizing lotions can help keep the skin hydrated since psoriasis can be worse when the skin is too dry. It can also help to avoid dry, cold weather since the climate can have a huge effect on the condition. Using a humidifier in the home may help alleviate some of the discomfort. There are some common pharmaceutical products which seem to make psoriasis flare up so these should be avoided at all costs. Avoid anything that causes cuts, bumps, scrapes or cuts. Take precautions when shaving; avoid insects that bite, chafing, tattoos and acupuncture. Alcohol consumption should be completely eliminated and do everything you can to reduce stress. Many people feel like their psoriasis flares up during very stressful times.

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