Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition of the body that affects the skin. Although the skin is the organ most visibly affected, the disease can extend beyond the skin as well. On the skin, it presents as red, flaky raised patches (which can occur anywhere on the body). It is usually itchy and sometimes, because people may scratch, they may bleed.
Another common manifestation is psoriatic arthritis. This is inflammation of the small joints, like in the fingers, wrists and neck.
People with extensive psoriasis have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and associated conditions, so the inflammation that we often see in the skin extends to other parts of the body as well.
We don’t completely understand what starts it, but we do know some of the biological pathways involved. We know what inflammatory pathways are turned on, but we don’t know what turns them on. Like many skin diseases, there is a genetic factor. Typically, psoriasis is worse with successive generations. So if your children have it, it will likely be worse than yours.
Psoriasis can affect any area of the skin – from the scalp to genitalia to nails – literally anywhere. For limited cases, the most common areas are the elbows, knees and scalp. Many people will have it in these areas and nowhere else. It also displays the koebner effect, which is where you get psoriasis in a scratch or otherwise traumatized area of skin.
How do we treat psoriasis?
Although treatments were limited to immunosuppressive medicines and treatments in the past, there are now many more targeted and safe treatent options. Medicines called biologics are injectable antibody-based treatments that target specific pathways. You usually inject these medicines at home every 1 – 12 weeks, depending on the specific medicine. Routine lab monitoring and skin exams are required. We may also use ultraviolet (UV) light treatments with either a home lightbox or an in-office lightbox. Lastly, the simplest way to treat limited psoriasis is topical creams, which usually consist of steroids and/or vitamin D analog creams.
With offices conveniently located in Atlanta and Alpharetta, Steele Dermatology offers expert psoriasis treatments and skincare regimens for our patients. To learn which treatment may be right for you, schedule an appointment or give us a call at (770) 464-6000.