Psoriasis is a persistent inflammatory skin condition characterized by red, thickened, scaling skin. Psoriasis most commonly affects the elbows, knees, scalp and back. However, it can occur anywhere on the body including the nails, genitals and palms and soles of the body. While the cause of psoriasis is unknown, it is believed that the person’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own skin through activation of T cells, a type of white blood cell. Once activated, the T cells trigger inflammation which causes the skin to grow too rapidly. Normally the skin replaces itself every 30 days, but in psoriasis the process is sped up and the skin replaces every 3 to 4 days. Psoriasis can be triggered by stress, infection such as strep throat, and by taking certain medications including interferon and lithium. Cold, dry winter weather and lack of sunlight can also trigger psoriasis. Psoriasis can as well affect the joints and it is known that up to 30% of psoriasis patients will also have arthritis know as psoriatic arthritis. This is a lifelong condition that causes deterioration of the joints therefore making early treatment and intervention critical to prevent long term damage and loss of physical function.
Although psoriasis cannot be cured, a number of treatment options are available to help control and manage the disease. A patient’s health, age, lifestyle and severity of disease determine which treatment option is most appropriate. Discuss your options with your dermatology professional at Ahwatukee Skin & Laser.