Some facts about psoriasis include:
-Approximately 7.5 million Americans have it
-It often appears in individuals between 15 and 25 years of age
-In 30 % of people, it can lead to a painful arthritic condition called psoriatic arthritis approximately 12 years after diagnosis
-Symptoms may improve in the summer and worsen in the winter
-If 1 parent has psoriasis, there is a 10% chance that his or her child will develop it. If both parents have it, the odds go up to 50% that their child will have it
-Men with severe psoriasis have a life span that is 3.5 years shorter than average. Women with severe psoriasis have a lifespan that is 4.4 years shorter than average
Psoriasis was originally viewed as strictly a skin condition, but we know now that it is an immune system disorder. Our immune system contains white blood cells called T cells. T cells help protect against infection and disease. With psoriasis, T cells are activated by accident and results in rapid skin cell growth.
Several types of psoriasis exist, but 80% of cases are plaque psoriasis. The symptoms are raised and thickened patches of red skin with silvery white scales. Another form of psoriasis is guttate psoriasis, which accounts for 10% of cases. Symptoms include small red dots, generally on the trunk, arms, and legs. These dots do not become scaly. The only way to know if you have psoriasis is to be diagnosed by a doctor.
The National Psoriasis Foundation defines psoriasis severity by the percentage of skin affected. Mild psoriasis affects less than 3% of skin. Moderate psoriasis affects 3 to 10% of the skin. Severe psoriasis involves more than 10% of the skin. For easy reference, a person’s hand represents 1% of the skin surface. Up to 90% of all psoriasis cases are considered mild.
The physical and emotional effects of psoriasis are significant- similar to the effects of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or depression. Psoriasis has a negative psychological impact, especially if it involves the hands, feet, genitals, or face. While psoriasis affects men and women equally, women experience a greater negative impact on quality of life.
There is no cure for psoriasis. Treatment focuses on managing symptoms. While symptoms may go away, they often reappear at a later time. The type of treatment depends on the severity of disease. For mild cases, 1 medication is often sufficient. A combination of meds is frequently needed for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis.
1. Topical agents like steroid creams or immunologic creams are applied directly to the skin in the forms of creams or ointments. These agents reduce inflammation, slow down the immune system, help skin peel, and unclog pores. Some examples include:
- Psoriasin ( coal Tar) which acts as an antiseptic and loosens and softens scales and crust
- Selenium sulfide slows cell growth
- Anthralin also slows down cell growth
- Calcipotriene (dovonex) is a synthetic vitamin D 3 product and works by regulating skin cell production
- Calcipotriene/ betamethasone (taclonex) combines the D3 analog with a topical steroid
2. Systemic treatments and Biologics like Humira are used for severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. They work by decreasing epidermal thickness and decreasing the infiltration of inflammatory cells. Tgese drugs can decrease the effectiveness of your body;s immune response and ca kead ti infections including TB so should be weighed carefuky with benefits ofuse outweighing the risks.
3. Light therapy either in natural or UV form can be used to slow down the groeth of skin cells. This is often combined wit medication treatment. Combination treatment usually produces betterresulkts
60% of people report psoriasis as a problem in everyday life. Many worry about symptoms getting worse or reappearing. They often become depressed, self-conscios, and fearfulof social rejection. Psychological support and counseling can help patients cope
Vanessa Andricola, Pharm D.