Psoriasis is a very common and persistent skin disorder that is characterized by red patches of skin that are sometimes covered with silvery scales. With psoriasis, your skin cells multiply up to 10 times faster than normal and build up on the skin's surface and die. The large volume of dead cells form the patches – also called plaques – which are often sore or itchy. Psoriasis most commonly occurs on the knees, elbows, and scalp but can affect any part of the body including the torso, lower legs, palms, and soles of the feet.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition which can range from mild to severe. It has many forms, including nail psoriasis, scalp psoriasis, and guttate psoriasis, which is triggered by a bacterial infection such as strep throat. Symptoms tend to be cyclical, and sometimes go completely into remission.
Expert Treatment for Patients with Psoriasis
ColumbiaDoctors dermatologists have extensive expertise in the management of all types of psoriasis. Our physicians offer a full range of the many medications and therapies available today. Your dermatologist will work closely with you to develop a comprehensive plan that includes realistic lifestyle changes, diet, therapies, and medications.
The goal of treatment is to slow down the multiplication of skin cells. Your dermatologist may try several approaches before finding the one that works for you, and a treatment that works at one time may stop working later.
Topical Medications for Psoriasis
Topical medications are applied directly to the skin. For mild or moderate psoriasis, they can be enough to manage the condition; for more severe cases they may be used in combination with other therapies. Topical treatments that have been successful with psoriasis include ointment or cream forms of corticosteroids, vitamin D3, retinoids, coal tar, anthralin, and moisturizers.
Therapies that use natural or artificial ultra-violet light are often used either alone or in combination with other medications. Light has been proven to help manage psoriasis symptoms, although too much can make them worse. With your dermatologist's guidance, light therapy can be as simple as exposing your skin to regular, controlled amounts of sunlight. It can also involve light from one of many artificial sources that your dermatologist can administer.
Oral or Injected Medications for Psoriasis
When your psoriasis is severe or doesn't respond to other treatments, your dermatologist may prescribe an oral or injected medication. Some of these medications have serious possible side effects, so your physician will monitor you closely. Biologic medications, which work by altering or suppressing your immune system, have been found to be helpful with psoriasis. These are usually administered by injection.
Helping You Cope with Your Psoriasis
Psoriasis can be a challenging condition which requires long-term attention and treatment. It can take an emotional toll. At ColumbiaDoctors Dermatology, we offer deep expertise and compassionate care, making sure that you get the best care along with the support you need to manage your condition.
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