Because September is Psoriasis Awareness Month, we are taking the opportunity to talk about this skin disease and how psoriasis symptoms can be managed. According to data from the National Psoriasis Foundation, more than 8 million Americans have psoriasis. If you are one of them, read on to learn more about the disease and how you can control it.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a condition that causes the body to produce new skin cells more quickly than it should. It produces the new cells in days rather than weeks, causing them to pile up on the skin. This may cause thick, scaly patches to appear on the skin.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
The main symptom of psoriasis is usually the thick, scaly patches of skin we mentioned above. These patches are called plaques. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), about 80% to 90% of people with psoriasis get plaques. This is referred to as plaque psoriasis.
Other symptoms of psoriasis include:
- Itching, burning, or soreness in the skin
- Thickened, pitted, or ridged nails
- Dry, cracked skin that itches or bleeds
- Swollen and stiff joints
Plaques vary in size. Some can cover a large area of the body, while others are only a small patch. They may appear as a single patch or join together. Psoriasis plaques can occur on any part of the skin, but there are some places on the body where they are more common. These areas include the:
- Lower back
Causes of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is thought to be an immune system disorder that causes the skin to regenerate faster than it should. However, there is no known cause of the immune disorder. Genetics may be a factor in who gets psoriasis. Environmental factors can contribute to the disease as well.
People with psoriasis find that their symptoms are triggered by certain things. These triggers include:
- Infections like strep throat or skin infections
- An injury to the skin
- Bug bite
- Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
- Cold, dry weather conditions
- Certain medications
- Blood pressure medications
- Antimalarial drugs
- Stopping certain medications containing corticosteroids
Managing Psoriasis Symptoms
Unfortunately, psoriasis is usually a life-long disease and has no cure. Sometimes children with a type of psoriasis cate guttate psoriasis do not have the condition for the rest of their lives, and it goes away. Even though there is no cure, there is good news about managing your psoriasis symptoms. A board-certified dermatologist can help you come up with a plan to help you control your psoriasis and help with symptoms.
Changes to your lifestyle or routine can often be very helpful in managing psoriasis symptoms. Consulting a board-certified dermatologist can help you come up with a plan that reduces your symptoms in the following ways:
- Learning what triggers your psoriasis and avoiding those things.
- Finding a good skincare routine that works for you and sticking to it.
- Living a healthy lifestyle in general, including:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Learning to manage stress
- Not smoking
Medications & Treatments
There are many types of medications and treatments that can help you manage psoriasis symptoms. Treatment is aimed at stopping skin cells from growing quickly, as well as removing scales. These treatments fall into three general categories:
- Topical medications: Topical treatments like creams and ointments are often the first type of treatment used to control the symptoms of psoriasis. The most common topical medications include:
- Synthetic Vitamin D
- Salicylic acid
- Calcineurin inhibitors
- Coal tar
- Light therapy: Moderate to severe psoriasis can often be managed with light therapy, which is also known as phototherapy. The skin is exposed to controlled amounts of artificial or natural light (sunlight, UVB rays, lasers). These treatments must be repeated.
- Oral or injected medications: Oral or injected medications may be prescribed by a dermatologist if symptoms are not managed with topical treatment or light therapy. Some medications have side effects, so they are only used for a short time. These medications include:
Make an Appointment With a Dermatologist
To get more information on how to control the symptoms of psoriasis, consult a dermatologist. If you are looking for a dermatologist, Blue Ridge Dermatology provides comprehensive medical and cosmetic dermatology. To get more information about spider vein treatments, call us at (919) 781-1050 to make an appointment.