Like the word gingivitis in the dental word, the word psoriasis is known to most people from the world of advertising. Psoriasis is a skin condition that is known more for its potential embarrassment of the sufferer rather than pain or discomfort. Still, at Deschutes we have various ways to help lessen the impact of psoriasis.
What is it?
Psoriasis is a skin condition that shows itself as patches of red, silvery scales on the skin. When behaving normally, skin grows at a consistent, gradual rate. Old skin cells are typically shed every four weeks. But when a person has psoriasis, they have abnormal lymphocytes that cause this skin process to happen at an accelerated rate, resulting in thick patches with dry flakes. It is usually shows itself on the elbows, scalp, hands, lower back, and knees. It is not contagious.
There are varying degrees of the condition. It is very common in adults, but children can have it, too. Many people may have it but not even be aware because it is only showing up in faint dry patches. But for others, severe psoriasis can leave red, thick scaly skin across much of their body. Obviously, in these cases, sufferers avoid activities such as swimming that require exposing areas of skin.
What’s the cause of psoriasis?
Doctors consider psoriasis to be an incurable, chronic skin condition. Exact causes are unknown, but it is believed that an overreaction in the immune system causes the skin to react with the rapid cell turnover that leads to inflamed, flaky skin. There are possibly genetic and environmental factors involved, as well.
Cold, dry weather tends to make psoriasis reappear or worsen (sound like anywhere you know?) Also, stress, infections, and certain medications can exacerbate psoriasis.
At Deschutes, we treat psoriasis differently for each patient. Mild cases can be treated with creams, ointments, and lotions. Shampoos, oils, and sprays can be used for treatment on the scalp. Although this seems counterintuitive, exposure to sunlight can help. If your psoriasis is more extreme, we may prescribe certain skin products and medications, even injections to boost your immune system. Phototherapy using UV light can also be effective, especially for more involved cases.
If you are embarrassed by your psoriasis, call us at Deschutes, 541-330-0900, and let’s see how we can help you.