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Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a fairly common skin condition characterized by skin redness, irritation and scaly patches. It can occur anywhere on the body and is found commonly on the knees, elbows, scalp and lower back. Currently, it affects one to three percent of the U.S. population.

Psoriasis causes the skin cells to grow too quickly. Ordinarily, skin cells grow and flake off in four-week cycles. When someone has psoriasis, this process can occur in days instead of weeks. This causes thick patches, called plaques to form.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, there are five different forms of psoriasis, which include:

There are several triggers that may intensify the symptoms of psoriasis. Common triggers include, stress, certain medicines, and the hot Arizona sun (among other possible weather conditions).

Available treatments for psoriasis range from creams and ointments, to prescription medicines and other medical treatments. The purpose of psoriasis treatment is to reduce inflammation by slowing the rapid growth of skin cells. Steroid based creams are one example of a treatment used to relieve itching and reduce inflammation. This occurs by blocking the production of more cells.

The following is a current list of treatments used to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of psoriasis. While there is no cure, many of these treatments can provide significant relief.

  • Topical treatments: These are medicines applied to the skin and can reduce inflammation by balancing or slowing skin cell reproduction. Examples of topical treatments include vitamin D compounds and topical corticosteroids. Salicylic Acid and Coal Tar are both approved by the FDA as treatments for psoriasis. (Most mild cases can be treated with skin products).
  • Biologics: These are drugs given intravenously or by injection. They work to suppress specific parts of the immune system proven to be overactive in psoriasis.
  • Phototherapy: This is a form of light therapy. This type of therapy requires the supervision of a doctor. It involves exposure of the skin to UV light on a consistent basis.
  • Occlusion Therapy: With this type of treatment, a topical is applied to the psoriasis lesions. Then the area is covered with some type of dressing, such as cellophane or plastic wrap. It is recommended to meet with a doctor before beginning occlusion therapy.

Luckily psoriasis is not a contagious condition. However, it’s important to note that all medications, as with any medical condition, come with possible side effects. The diagnosis of psoriasis is most commonly made by a complete inventory of the patient’s family history, medical history, and a physician examination. In certain cases, additional tests and procedures may be necessary to complete the diagnosis.

Dermatologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of psoriasis. Contact Dr. Senait Dyson, our skin doctor in Tucson at (520) 838-0777 before beginning psoriasis treatment.

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