If your skin is dry and itchy, you could have a health condition known as psoriasis. At Colorado Skin & Vein, we offer a variety of treatments to alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis and calm your irritated skin.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition and immune-mediated disease that can affect the skin and joints. This condition changes the life cycle of skin cells, causing them to rapidly build up into thick, silvery scales and itchy, dry, and red patches. Psoriasis is a chronic disease with systemic inflammation and periodic symptom flare-ups that are usually caused by triggers. Most often, psoriasis appears on the scalp, elbows, or knees, but it can appear anywhere on the body. In addition to itchiness and dryness, psoriasis can also burn and sting painfully. It is not contagious or infectious.
What Causes Psoriasis?
We do not know what causes psoriasis, but we do know that genetics and the immune system affect its development. It is thought that one-third of individuals with psoriasis also have a family member with the condition. Most people who develop psoriasis are 15 to 35 years old, though psoriasis may occur at any age. It occurs at equal rates in men and women and is found in all racial groups.
What Does Psoriasis Look Like?
A dermatologist can typically diagnose psoriasis on sight. There are five types of psoriasis:
- Plaque Psoriasis: This is the most common type of psoriasis and looks like raised, red patches covered with silvery white dead skin cells. Plaque psoriasis is most often found on the scalp, knees, elbows, and lower back. The plaques can be itchy and painful and may crack and bleed.
- Guttate Psoriasis: This is the second most common form and appears as small, dot-like lesions on the skin. Guttate psoriasis may be triggered by a strep infection and often begins in childhood or young adulthood.
- Inverse Psoriasis: Inverse psoriasis causes red, shiny lesions in natural body folds, such as under the arm, the back of the knee, or in the groin. Many affected patients have another type of psoriasis as well.
- Pustular Psoriasis: White pustules surrounded by red skin are known as pustular psoriasis. This most often occurs on the hands or feet but can be found anywhere on the body.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis: This rare but severe form of psoriasis causes a widespread, fiery redness on most of the body. The skin may come off in sheets and is accompanied by severe itching and pain. This type may be life-threatening and should be treated immediately.
Is Psoriasis Related to Any Other Medical Conditions?
People with psoriasis have systemic inflammation, and as much as 30 percent of affected individuals also have (or will develop) psoriatic arthritis. Having psoriasis is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, depression, and diabetes. The onset of psoriasis may follow an infection such as strep throat, an earache, tonsillitis, bronchitis, or a respiratory infection.
How Is Psoriasis Treated?
Treatment for psoriasis depends on the type, severity (how widespread it is and how it impacts your life), and location. Psoriasis often requires a combination of treatment strategies that may be rotated. For mild psoriasis, topical treatments such as shampoos, creams, moisturizers, steroids, and retinoids may be used. Oral immunomodulation treatments, biological treatments, oral retinoids, or other systemic treatment options may be recommended for moderate to severe psoriasis, especially if the joints are affected. Finally, phototherapy may be used to treat psoriasis, usually in addition to topical and/or systemic treatments.
If you have psoriasis, our experts at Colorado Skin & Vein can work with you to determine the best way to manage your condition and ease your symptoms. Call 303-683-3235 or contact us online to schedule your appointment today.