Psoriasis is a common, chronic, inflammatory disease of the immune system that involves the skin, and sometimes the joints. In normal skin, cells start growing in the epidermis of the skin and over the month they rise to the surface as they mature and eventually fall (or shed) off from everyday wear and tear. In Psoriasis, this process is accelerated and only takes a week or two. Skin cells accumulate and multiple quickly, leading to thick, scaly plaques. A patient with psoriasis has overactive T cells (part of the natural immune process), which lead to increased deposition of skin cells. A lot of treatments for psoriasis are geared at controlling the immune response.
Psoriasis can start at any age including childhood, with peaks of onset at 15-25 years and 50-60 years. It is chronic, and persists lifelong, however fluctuates in severity. Psoriasis can affect people of any race, however is particularly common in Caucasians. Many patients with psoriasis often have family members with a history of psoriasis. It produces red, scaly, itchy areas of the skin, often on the limbs, trunk and scalp. Psoriasis however can affect any part of the body. During times of flares, psoriasis can be bothersome to patients both physically and emotionally. It not only affects the skin, but can also affect the nails and joints. About 10-30% of psoriasis patients have psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms can include stiffness, swelling and pain in the tendons and joints.
It may be hard to know what always causes a particular flare of psoriasis, there have been some common triggers identified. Some of the most common triggers are as follows:
There is no known cure for psoriasis, but there are very effective therapies. Treatment can vary depending on a lot of factors. Severity, body location, and type of psoriasis (as there are subtypes) can all affect how it is treated. Most treatment plans often follow a step-wise approach. Treatments may include topical steroids, topical vitamin d, and or oral medication. Laser treatment with the excimer laser (link) for psoriasis can be offered if topical medications are not effective Our dermatologists also have extensive experience with newer medications for severe psoriasis including Enbrel, Humira, Selara, Otezla, Cosentyx, Taltz, and Tremfya.