Psoriasis is a common, chronic autoimmune disease that affects the skin. The disorder is caused by a defect in the immune system where the skin is recurrently messaged to speed the growth of skin cells, with affected areas ranging from localized patches to complete body coverage. Psoriasis is commonly found on the skin on the elbows and the knees, but it can also be found on other parts of the body such as the scalp. The disorder may also affect the nails, causing discoloration, crumbling or detachment from the nail bed. It is non-contagious.
There are five different types of psoriasis: plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic. The most common type, plaque psoriasis, is characterized by itchy redness, the appearance of silver-white scale-like flakes in patches, and sometimes – painful irritation. Psoriasis is also known to cause psoriatric arthritis, inflammation of the joints.
Psoriasis is typically diagnosed in people between the ages of 15-35, with recurring and some self-healing flare-ups taking place throughout time. Testing for psoriasis is usually done by visual examination, with a trained health care provider looking at the skin. Sometimes a skin biopsy or scraping may be done, and xrays may be taken if a patient presents with joint pain.
The cause of psoriasis is still unknown, but it is believed to be an inherited or genetic disease. Most serious psoriasis cases are related to deficiencies in the immune system. Severe psoriasis can be common in people with a weakened immune system, particularly those affected by AIDS, autoimmune disorders (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis), and cancer chemotherapy. Triggers and factors that contribute to the flare up or worsening of psoriasis include: bacterial and viral infections, dry air or dry skin, injuries to the skin, cold weather, smoking, heavy consumption of alcohol, unregulated amounts of sunlight, and stress.
The main sign and symptom of psoriasis is irritated patches of skin that are raised and thick, pink-red in color, and dry with silver-white scale-like flakes. This is most common in plaque psoriasis. Other types of psoriasis present with different symptoms. Erythrodermic psoriasis commonly expresses very intense skin redness over a large area of the body. Guttate psoriasis appears as small, pink spots on the skin. Inverse psoriasis occurs in the armpits, groin, and in-between overlapping skin with redness and irritation. Pustular psoriasis presents as white blisters surrounded by irritated, red skin. Other general symptoms of psoriasis may include: genital lesions in males, joint pain, nail thickening, spots on nails, dents on the nail surface, separation of the nail from the base, and severe scalp dandruff.
Typically, three different types of treatment options are available for psoriasis depending upon the severity of the disease. Symptoms can be controlled, and adhering to at least one of the treatment therapies can help prevent infections. For mild to moderate psoriasis, topical agents such as moisturizers, shampoos, and medicated creams and ointments can alleviate dryness and irritation, and many times clear plaques and affected skin. Topical corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs, which are the most commonly prescribed treatment for psoriasis. Synthetic forms of vitamin D, anthralin (Dritho-scalp), and topical retinoids are other topical treatment options available.
Phototherapy in the form of sunlight or special lamps is another effective treatment option for psoriasis, usually for those with more moderate to severe cases. Psoralen, a topical medication, can be used in combination with ultraviolet A phototherapy (PUVA), but this treatment regimen is known to cause nausea, headache, fatigue, burning and itching in some patients.
Systemic medications in the form of pills or injections are another treatment option for psoriasis, usually moderate to severe in nature. Methotrexate, cyclosporine, and retinoids are commonly prescribed systemic medications to treat psoriasis. Since this type of treatment affects the whole body, systemic treatment is not recommended for those who experience blood and liver irregularities or those who are or may become pregnant. Psoriasis is known to recur after halting systemic treatments.
Stat RX Pharmacy carries a range of topical and systemic treatments for psoriasis, including Amevive, Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, Simponi, Soriatane, and Stelara. We understand the needs of our patients and their families, and will work with patients and providers to ensure the best, most cost-effective course of therapy available. It’s our goal to help patients maintain the quality of life they deserve. Contact us today for more information on our treatment options for psoriasis.
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