Psoriasisis a chronic, or recurring, disease that develops when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive and produces too many skin cells. The skin cells pile up on the skin’s surface and show up as raised, red patches of skin called plaques.
Once triggered, these plaques can appear anywhere on the body, but typically show up on a person’s knees, elbows, scalp and lower back. Common psoriasis symptoms include:
- Rash that does not go away.
- Raised, red scales, or patches on the skin, that have well-defined edges.
- Intense itching.
- Painful, thickened skin.
Midwest Dermatology’s skin specialists understand that psoriasis is caused by a combination of factors, including individual genetics, factors found in the environment and the way the body’s immune system works.
About 10 percent of the U.S. population is believed to have a genetic predisposition for psoriasis, but only about 2 to 3 percent ever actually develop the disease.
Psoriasis is a disease that flares up when it is triggered by an environmental factor.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for it, but it can be managed effectively at Midwest Dermatology. Our dermatologists have a variety of medications that they use to help:
- Smooth and soothe the inflammation and redness associated with psoriasis.
- Slow down the body’s ability to overproduce the skin cells.
- Prevent psoriasis from spreading to other areas of the body.
Environmental triggers don’t actually cause psoriasis, but they play a large role in determining when an outbreak will occur. Psoriasis triggers are different for every individual, and can range from:
- Cold, dry winter weather.
- Sunburn, or excessive sun exposure.
- Scratches, bug bites and other skin injuries.
- Common infections (like upper respiratory infections).
- Medications that affect your immune system.
- Drinking alcohol.
- Other triggers that are unique to you.
At Midwest Dermatology, our physicians first confirm that the symptoms you are experiencing are, in fact, psoriasis. Then, they consider the severity of the psoriasis and where it is on the body. This results in an individualized treatment plan that may include:
- Topical medications, including gels, lotions and creams that work on the skin’s surface to control psoriasis symptoms.
- Medicated shampoos and solutions to treat psoriasis on the scalp.
- Oral medications derived from Vitamin A that help control moderate to severe psoriasis.
- Biologic medications – injectable protein based drugs derived from living cells, cultured in a laboratory. These highly effective medications work at the immune system level to target the proteins that cause inflammation and excess skin cell production.
- Light therapy, including:
- Narrow- and broad-band ultraviolet B light therapy. UVB rays are present in natural sunlight and have been proven effective as a treatment for psoriasis. The difference between narrow and broad band UVB treatment is the range of the ultraviolet light that is released.
- PUVA therapy, which combines ultraviolet A light therapy with a light-sensitive drug called psoralen, which is taken by mouth.
Because psoriasis symptoms and triggers vary significantly from person to person, some patients may benefit from Midwest Dermatology prescribing a combination of the therapies described above.