Coastal Medical & Cosmetic Dermatology
Medical & Cosmetic Dermatology located in La Jolla, CA
Psoriasis Q & A
What causes psoriasis?
Psoriasis is caused by an error in your immune system that stimulates fast skin cell growth. Rather than forming over the course of a week, these new skin cells form in just a few days.
As excess cells pile up on the surface of your skin, they form patches. As skin cells continue to accumulate, the patches become thicker and scalier.
Psoriasis isn’t contagious, but its patches can be itchy and sore. They may also become very dry, form cracks, and bleed.
Both genetic and environmental factors are thought to contribute to the development of the disease. Certain factors are known to trigger or worsen psoriasis, including:
- Specific infections, including strep throat
- Skin injuries, including cuts or sunburns
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Chronic psychological stress
- Specific medications, including beta blockers
- Smoking or heavy alcohol consumption
What are some forms of psoriasis?
Although the disease comes in many forms, most psoriasis patients are affected by one of the following:
Plaque psoriasis, the most common form of the condition, causes dry, raised, red lesions covered with white or silvery scales. These lesions may be few or many, and can appear anywhere.
This type of psoriasis is typically triggered by a bacterial infection, and mostly affects children and adolescents. It causes small scaling lesions on the trunk, arms, legs, or scalp.
As the name implies, nail psoriasis affects fingernails and toenails. While it typically causes pitting, abnormal nail growth, and discoloration, it can also cause nails to fall off.
Typically set off by a fungal infection, inverse psoriasis causes smooth patches of red, inflamed skin in the armpits, groin area, or under the breasts.
How is psoriasis treated?
Because psoriasis can’t be cured, the goal of an effective psoriasis treatment is to successfully manage the condition by reducing inflammation and clearing your skin.
For mild to moderate cases of psoriasis, topical treatments such as corticosteroids and retinoids can provide excellent results. These medicated creams and lotions are applied directly to the lesions.
More severe cases of psoriasis usually respond best to a combination of topical lotions and oral or injected medications. Many of these medications are designed to be taken for short periods of time, however.
Light therapy involves controlled exposure to ultraviolet light, which slows cell turnover to help reduce scaling and inflammation. This cutting-edge treatment delivers precision beams of ultraviolet light directly to the affected areas.
Because light therapy doesn’t target healthy tissues, it can safely deliver a high-dose treatment for faster clearing and longer remission.
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