From Dr. Alan Schliftman, Westmed Dermatologist
Psoriasis is a skin ailment that affects two to four percent of the population and may occur at any age. It’s an immune disease in which the skin grows very fast, and it can affect all areas of the body, including the nails, scalp and joints (psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory form of arthritis). It can start without any warning or may occur following a sore throat, medication or stressful event.
Most commonly, there is a family history of the condition, but sometimes it occurs even in people who have not inherited a gene that makes them susceptible.
The appearance can vary greatly from person to person, and symptoms can range from itching and burning to being totally symptom-free. What has changed over the past 10 years is a dramatic increase in our understanding of this skin disease both from a genetic point of view and the development of new targeted therapies for the immune reaction.
In the past, we were limited to topical treatments that included topical steroids, forms of Vitamin D and Vitamin A, as well as creams that removed scaling. Recent advances in phototherapy utilize safer narrow-band ultraviolet light in combination with excimer laser light. This treatment has greatly diminished the suffering of patients. Older treatments with oral medications such as methotrexate and cyclosporine are used in certain circumstances. However, the newer medications have made the most impact.
A partial listing of current medications in use for psoriasis includes Otezla, Remicade, Humira, Enbrel, Stelara, Tremfya, Cosentyx and Talz.
Some of these medications, known as “biologics” have been very effective. In most cases, patients will have dramatic improvement or complete clearing of their skin, a remission of psoriasis.
If you suspect or know that you have psoriasis, now is the time we can offer the greatest range of therapy to improve your quality of life. You no longer have to suffer alone and should see one our Westmed dermatologists or nurse practitioners to ascertain what therapy would be best to minimize your skin problem.