Most people only know of the word “psoriasis” from television, thanks to the large ad budget of Head & Shoulders Shampoo. Forever linked with eczema and seborrhea in those commercials, psoriasis is a term most people have at least heard.
But what is it?
Psoriasis is a skin condition that is known more for its potential embarrassment of the sufferer rather than pain or discomfort. Dr. Carter and the team at Deschutes don’t want you to be irritated or embarrassed by your psoriasis, so we have different ways to treat it.
What is it?
Psoriasis is chronic skin disorder that causes patches of red, silvery scales to develop 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 skinning process to happen at an accelerated rate, resulting in thick patches with dry flakes. It usually shows itself on the elbows, scalp, hands, lower back, and knees. It is not contagious. Psoriasis affects roughly 2% of Americans, over seven million men and women.
Psoriasis is very common in adults, but many people don’t even know they have it because it may just show itself in a little patch here or there. But for others, severe psoriasis can leave red, thick scaly skin across much of their body. Sufferers end up avoiding showing their skin in shorts, summer dresses, and swimsuits. But with all of the outdoor fun here in Bend, who wants to stay all covered up?
What causes psoriasis?
The exact causes of psoriasis are still somewhat of a mystery, but there are similarities with allergies. 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. Genetic and environmental factors seem to be involved, as well. Cold, dry weather tends to make psoriasis reappear or worsen. Also, stress, infections, and certain medications can exacerbate psoriasis.
At the Deschutes, we treat psoriasis differently for each patient. Topical treatment is our first option:
- Topical corticosteroids
- Vitamin D analogs
- Coal tar
- Salicylic acid
- Bath solutions
Light therapy — The controlled delivery of synthetic UV light may be effective in the treatment of psoriasis. Depending on the case, this may involve either ultraviolet B phototherapy or ultraviolet A phototherapy.
Systemic treatment — In severe cases of psoriasis, medicines taken internally can be prescribed. These can include methotrexate, retinoids, cyclosporine, and biologic response modifiers.
With today’s available treatments for psoriasis, there’s no reason to simply suffer through its embarrassing red patches. Call us at Deschutes Dermatology, 541-330-0900, and let’s see how we can help.