Psoriasis is a common chronic skin disease categorized by irritated, pink patches of flaking skin. Its exact cause is unknown, but it many cases it is genetic, or passed down within a family, and it is not spread by contact. Infections like strep throat, emotional distress, and certain medications can lead to flares. Although mostly an adult condition, psoriasis can occur in children as well.
Psoriasis often affects a person’s quality of life in addition to the physical impact is has on their skin. Affected areas of skin are rough and scaly, which causes many individuals to cover up to avoid stares or questions about their condition. The longevity of the disease may alter one’s self-image and interactions with others. When psoriasis affects the hands and feet, it can pose as a challenge with professional jobs or household chores. Psoriasis also can negatively impact the quality of sleep.
At Burt and Will Plastic Surgery & Dermatology, we provide a range of effective treatments for psoriasis in Plainfield and Burr Ridge, also serving the Naperville and Burr Ridge community. We are proud to offer the most up-to-date treatments available for psoriasis; such as injectable biologic therapy.
Not all individuals with psoriasis experience the same symptoms; visible indicators vary based on the type and severity of their condition and may include:
- Pink spots with a silver, scaly look – often on the elbows and knees (termed plaques)
- Flaky angry spots over the scalp
- Raised, red, inflamed skin lesions
- Pitted nails or separation from the nail bed
- Soreness, burning, or Itching of the skin
- Dry skin which may crack or bleed, particularly if the hands or feet are affected
- Small, red spots spread out over the body (a form more common in children and young adults)
- Pink patches in the skin folds or genitals
Psoriasis Treatments in Naperville, Hinsdale and Burr Ridge, IL
Although there presently is no cure for psoriasis, we offer new and innovative treatments which can give the patient control overactive symptoms. Psoriasis treatments depend on the severity and extent of the condition, as well as locations of the affected skin. A treatment fundamentally must be practical to do and work within an individual’s daily routine.
Topical Medicine for Mild to Severe Cases
For mild to moderate psoriasis, treatments may consist of:
- calcineurin inhibitors
- topical steroids
- vitamin D derivatives
- coal tar preparations
- salicylic acid
- natural products or shampoos
All these medications come in different strengths and forms – from creams to oils to foams – and optimizing how and when to use them is equally important as which medications one uses.
Prescription Medicine for Severe Cases
With moderate to severe psoriasis, or where the joints have been damaged (psoriatic arthritis), our first line treatments are not practical to use. Therapies used in this area have evolved significantly as we better understand how psoriasis works and which inflammatory mediators lead to the skin spots. For some patients in this category, treatments may include a combination of light treatments, which have anti-inflammatory properties, along with topical medications. Patients alternatively may benefit from traditional psoriasis medications that can be taken by mouth, such as acitretin, cyclosporine, or methotrexate. These treatments have potential risks, so we closely monitor blood, kidney and liver tests to ensure the patients are taking the medication safely.
Fortunately, a great deal of investigation has gone into understanding the inflammatory pathways and mechanisms within the skin cells that lead to psoriasis. As a result, a category of medications termed “biologics” was developed to specifically block inflammatory mediators that lead to psoriasis. These can be life altering for some patients and can make nearly all the skin spots dormant, preventing further joint damage in those that have psoriatic arthritis. Medications in the biologic family of treatments include:
Deciding which medication is best depends on many variables, including where and what type of psoriasis a patient has, if someone has psoriatic arthritis, other medical conditions that may be impacted by certain biologics, ultimately requiring a thorough conversation with your dermatologist. Some biologic medications may require prior bloodwork or tuberculosis testing and regular monitoring is necessary to ensure an optimal response and safe treatment.
Is psoriasis contagious?
No, absolutely not. Psoriasis is not something you can pass on or catch from another person. The flares are not to be confused with skin infections. People with psoriasis pose no threat to the safety or health of others.
How is psoriasis diagnosed?
We go through your medical and family history and performs a thorough visual examination of this to determine if your condition is indeed psoriasis; although the need for a skin biopsy is unlikely, this technique can be used to examine a piece of affected skin under a microscope to help confirm a diagnosis.
Is psoriasis associated with other health issues?
The most common and classic association is psoriatic arthritis, which is a type of arthritis that affects 30% of patients with psoriasis lesions of the skin. With this condition, the soft tissue and adjacent joints become stiff and inflamed, classically presenting as “morning stiffness.” Psoriatic arthritis may affect the toes, fingers, ankles, knees, lower back, and neck. In severe cases, psoriatic arthritis could cause irreversible damage to the patient’s joints. There are also increased rates of inflammatory bowel disease, depression, and cardiovascular disease among those with psoriasis.
How common is psoriasis?
Psoriasis affects over 7.5 million people in the United States alone, 125 million worldwide. Many famous people – including LeAnn Rimes, Jon Lovitz, and Kim Kardashian West – have openly shared their experiences treating their conditions. This has helped increase awareness and decrease embarrassment of the disease.