What is psoriasis? Psoriasis is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition in which the skin cells divide rapidly, creating thick plaques on the skin. These plaques are usually found on the elbows, knees, and scalp. People with psoriasis can also get plaques on areas of skin that have been injured. This is known as the Koebner phenomenon. One can develop psoriasis at any age, however the average ages are between ages 23 and 55. The cause of psoriasis is not well understood; it is thought to be caused by an autoimmune response, and genetics.
There are many triggers to psoriasis, such as stress, alcohol, smoking, and certain medications (steroids, anti-hypertensives). The most common complaint is itchiness of the psoriatic lesions. People also complain of joint pain. Some 5-8% of people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis.
The goal when treating psoriasis is to calm the lesions down and address any joint pain. Treatments for psoriasis include topical steroid creams, usually medium to high potency for use on the body, and low potency for the face. Steroid creams are used for temporary relief only and should be used for no more than two weeks at a time. Other creams are vitamin D and retinoids that can be used on a daily basis. Injection of a steroid directly into the lesion can also help. Scalp psoriasis can be treated by liquid and shampoo steroids, again only for a two-week maximum. Over the counter medicated shampoos, such as tar and salicylic acid can be used 3-4 times a week.
There have been many advancements in the treatment of psoriasis for people who fail topical therapy. Those treatments include injectables called biologics, and an oral medication called Otezla. The biologics are used as a treatment for moderate to severe psoriasis as well as joint pain. Older treatments include light therapy, and systemic medications. Those who suffer from psoriasis are encouraged to visit www.psoriasis.org for information on resources, events, and research.
At our dermatology offices in Fairfield County, CT, Dr. Kenneth Egan and PA, Jessica Mangiaracina specialize in all of your family's skin care needs in general medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology including skin cancer, molluscum contagiosum, impetigo, acne, eczema, warts, moles, fungal nail infections, rashes and scars. Our offices are located in the towns of Danbury, Norwalk and Ridgefield.
-Jessica Mangiaracina, PA-C