Psoriasis is a lifelong skin condition capable of causing severe discomfort. Unfortunately, its impact extends beyond skin plaques and rashes. The plaques are often mistaken for a contagious condition, and their unsightly appearance leads to embarrassment that affects self-esteem.
Theresa Durchhalter, DO, FAAD, at Allure Dermatology, has helped many patients with psoriasis. By providing individualized treatment using today’s advanced therapies, she helps them get relief from the itching and can often slow or stop future flare-ups.
Here, we explain five things you may not know about psoriasis.
Psoriasis develops when an overactive immune system triggers rapid skin growth. New skin cells develop deep under the surface and migrate upward. Normally, old skin cells on the surface shed while they’re replaced by new healthy cells.
The process of maturing, spending time on the surface, and shedding typically takes four weeks. When you have psoriasis, new cells reach the surface in a few days. Instead of shedding, the skin cells build up on the surface, creating a thickened plaque that’s red, inflamed, and covered in dry skin.
This type of psoriasis, called plaque psoriasis, is just one of several types. However, it’s the most common.
Psoriasis is renowned for causing intense itching. But you may not know that it often causes pain. The skin around patches of psoriasis often becomes quite painful. If psoriasis affects your nails, it can cause such severe pain that it’s hard to use your hand or foot.
If you give in and scratch the itch, it’s easy to damage the inflamed skin, leading to further pain. You also experience a different level of pain if you develop psoriatic arthritis.
Nearly one-third of people with psoriasis develop inflammatory arthritis called psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis affects large and small joints. However, it often involves the joints near the tips of your fingers and toes or settles in your spine.
You may develop psoriatic arthritis in one or several joints. It can also appear on one side of your body or affect the same joint on both sides. No matter which joint is affected, psoriatic arthritis causes:
Dactylitis can be extremely painful, making it impossible to use the affected digit. Prolonged inflammation can erode the bones in the joint and spread to other body areas. For example, people with psoriatic arthritis frequently have eye inflammation (uveitis).
Psoriasis symptoms come and go, alternating between flare-ups and periods of remission. The flare-ups typically occur in response to triggers, such as:
Though these are some of the most common triggers, your unique trigger may be something different. Identifying and avoiding your trigger is an important part of your treatment, but that’s only the first step.
Psoriasis is a lifelong condition for which we currently don’t have a cure. However, today’s treatments and advanced medications effectively ease your symptoms and often keep the disease in remission.
We may prescribe one of several topical and/or oral medications that produce different results. Some reduce inflammation and slow down skin growth, while others calm a rash or suppress the immune system.
Light therapy, alone or with medications, helps moderate to severe cases of psoriasis. Carefully exposing your skin to ultraviolet light (using a structured and controlled regimen) slows the growth of skin cells.
We also specialize in today’s most advanced psoriasis treatment, biologics. Biologics contain antibodies, immune system cells, that are specially designed to target and destroy proteins involved in psoriasis. These medications may be appropriate for moderate to severe cases of psoriasis that don’t improve with other therapies.
If you develop an uncomfortable rash or notice the classic psoriasis plaques, don’t wait to seek treatment that can relieve your symptoms and reduce flare-ups. Call Allure Dermatology or request an appointment online today.