Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that is caused in part by an overactive immune system. This signals the body to grow skin cells 4 to 5 times faster than normal. Instead of the normal shedding process, these skin cells pile up on the surface and form red or silver patches called plaques.
What Are The Types of Psoriasis
- Plaque Psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis as 90% of patients suffer from it. This type of psoriasis appears like islands on the skin with redness and scale. It is most commonly seen on the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis is the most harmful to the patient. This appears as bright red skin usually over 60% or more of the body. The patient will often experience a fever and the chills. Erythrodermic psoriasis should be treated immediately by a doctor and could be a medical emergency.
- Guttate Psoriasis appears as little droplet sized patches most commonly found on the chest/back/arms/legs. Guttate psoriasis is often brought on by an acute bacterial infection such as strep throat.
- Inverse Psoriasis usually occurs in the folds of the skin such as the under arms, in the groin and under the breasts. Inverse psoriasis appears as flat red patches, often very painful and accompanied by yeast.
- Pustular Psoriasis looks like little blisters filled with sterile fluid. It is often misdiagnosed and is the hardest to treat. Pustular psoriasis commonly appears on the palms and soles of the feet. Because of the location, many times this form of Psoriasis can be disabling.
- Psoriatic Arthritis is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation in the joints which causes pain and swelling. Changes in the joints may range from mild to severe and dramatically affect the individual’s ability to perform activities of daily living. The joint changes can be permanent if not identified and treated. Only patients with psoriasis can develop psoriatic arthritis. A small number of individual’s, ten percent, may develop joint symptoms prior to skin symptoms. Disease flares may alternate with periods of remission with psoriatic arthritis as well as psoriasis. Evaluation should be done by an experienced Dermatologist who specializes in psoriasis.
What Are The Treatments For Psoriasis
Topical Therapy is the most frequently used treatment by doctors today. There are two types of topical treatments that can be used for psoriasis; steroidal creams and non-steroidal creams.
Topical steroids contain synthetic cortisone which is an anti-inflammatory agent to reduce redness and swelling. Patients using topical steroids should follow doctors’ instructions closely to prevent thinning of the skin, easy bruising and stretch marks.Examples of non-steroidal medications are tar, salicylic acid, topical retinoids and vitamin D analogs. Tar can be bought over the counter and is used to help slow rapid skin cell growth, and help reduce itching and scaling. Like tar, salicylic acid can be purchased over the counter and is used to shed scale. Both tar and salicylic acid can be prescribed as compounds combined with other topical therapies. Topical retinoids and Vitamin D products are prescribed by a physician. These agents help to remove scale and flatten the psoriatic lesions.
Topicals come in cream, ointment, lotion, solution, gel, foam and spray. Ointments are prescribed more frequently since they are more occlusive and tend to work better. Lotion, foam and solution may be used on the scalp allowing for easy application.
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