Psoriasis is a persistent condition that is as mysterious as it is irritating. Treating psoriasis in the long term can be tricky, but with the help of an experienced dermatologist, it can be done.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes the skin to generate at an accelerated pace. While the exact cause is still debated, the prevailing theory is that psoriasis happens when the body's immune system overreacts. This overreaction of the immune system makes skin cell growth speed up, causing skin to accumulate. This out of control growth is often referred to as a plaque. Plaques are patches of skin that can be flaky, shiny, raised, or inflamed and are often itchy. There are many possible triggers for what starts psoriasis, including infection and illness. While a person is sick, their skin may begin to develop psoriasis. Psoriasis can occur anywhere on the body and can actually impact more than just the skin. Psoriasis of the finger or toenails can cause pitting (indented spots on the nails) and even complete detachment of the nail. Psoriasis can also develop into a condition called psoriatic arthritis, in which the immune system attacks joint tissue. This causes inflammation of the joints and pain. Much like psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition, meaning that once it starts, it won't go away on its own. There may be periods of extreme symptoms and other times where things quiet down, but it's an unfortunately ever present condition.
Since psoriasis is a chronic condition, there is no cure for the disease. But don't let that demoralize you; millions of people live normal lives with psoriasis. Treating psoriasis can take time and patience, but with the right dermatologist, things will improve. By controlling the symptoms of psoriasis with medication and lifestyle changes, a person can overcome the worst of the disease and the discomfort and social anxiety it can cause. Treating psoriasis early and consistently can also reduce the likelihood of developing psoriatic arthritis, though even the most proactive treatment cannot outright prevent it.
So what does treatment for psoriasis entail? There are three main courses of action that a dermatologist may take when treating psoriasis, and the first is topical medication. Topical medications such as corticosteroids are the first line of defense against psoriasis symptoms. The drug acts as an anti-inflammatory, reducing inflammation and helping reduce the red, scaly appearance psoriasis often causes. While corticosteroids can be purchased over the counter, higher concentrations must be prescribed. More recent treatments may combine corticosteroids with retinoids, which are drugs that contain vitamin A.
For treating psoriasis, doctors often prescribe tazarotene, which can help promote healthier skin growth and reduce plaques. Oral medications are generally reserved for moderate to severe psoriasis. These oral medications include soriatane and cyclosporine, the former being an oral retinoid. Both of these drugs help to inhibit the skin’s rapid cellular production, helping to reduce the appearance of plaques and the overall symptoms of psoriasis. Lastly, there’s a growing focus on phototherapy, or the use of controlled ultraviolet light, for the supplemental treatment of psoriasis. Light therapy is a great addition to your current psoriasis treatment. UVB or UVA light can both slow excess skin production, though the exact scientific explanation for why that occurs isn’t fully known. Light therapy can be helpful in treating psoriasis, but it’s usually not the only treatment you’ll have. By remaining consistent with your phototherapy sessions, you can help the medications you’ve been prescribed to work even better at reducing and controlling your psoriasis symptoms.
A simple cure for psoriasis isn’t possible with current medical technology, but dermatologists have made great leaps in treating this difficult condition. Ready to learn more or start your psoriasis treatment? Give the pros a call at Northeast Dermatology Associates today.
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