Psoriasis is a chronic immune-mediated inflammatory skin condition in which an overactive immune system causes the body to make new skin cells in days rather than weeks. The overgrowth of cells does not shed; instead the overgrowth piles up on the skin’s surface and causes thick white scale to appear. These resulting plaques can itch, sting or burn. In addition to the skin, psoriasis can involve the scalp and nails. However, it most commonly involves bony surfaces such as elbows, knees and ankles. Psoriasis is not contagious. It can flare from numerous factors including stress, skin injury, certain medications, streptococcal infections, cold weather and excessive alcohol consumption. Psoriasis cannot be cured; it typically waxes and wanes throughout life.
Treatment is dictated by the severity of one’s psoriasis, its location on the body and how much of the body surface area is affected. For mild psoriasis, topical therapy is most common and options include emollients, compounds containing tar, salicylic acid, steroids, Vitamin D analogues, calcineuron inhibitors or a combination of some of the aforementioned medications. An effective treatment for moderate to severe psoriasis is phototherapy. Phototherapy is UV radiation often given alone or in combination with a topical or systemic compound. The mechanism of action of phototherapy is not completely understood. However, it is believed that ultraviolet radiation plays a role in immunosuppression and cell cycle interruption in the skin. For severe psoriasis, treatment is often systemic. There are numerous, highly effective systemic medications including certain retinoid compounds, immunosuppressants such as Methotrexate and Cyclosporin and immunotherapy with “biologic” medications which are targeted therapies that can either amplify or suppress an immune response in a person’s body.
To treat an AK, your dermatologist will take into consideration several factors including how many AK’s you have, where they are on your body, their size and your medical history. Treatment options include cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen), chemical peels, photodynamic therapy, laser resurfacing, as well as topical medications such as imiquimod (Aldara/Zyclara) and 5-fluorouracil (5FU/Efudex).
PSORIASIS QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Steroids, vitamin A derivatives, topical ointments, anti-inflammatory medication, and immunosuppressive drugs are other possible treatments for this condition, but lasering shows the most progress and offers the best relief.
Yes. If left untreated, it is possible for a squamous cell carcinoma to develop. Treatment is recommended as soon as possible to avoid this possibility.
Some at-home remedies to calm your psoriasis symptoms are:
- Take a warm bath with Epsom salt.
- Apply aloe vera to affected areas.
- Use a humidifier in your home to avoid drying out your skin.
- Add turmeric and omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Practice stress-relieving activities, such as yoga or deep breathing.
*This webpage is for informational purposes and is not intended to be, and should not be relied upon as, medical advice. Any medical concerns should be addressed with a physician.