If you have psoriasis, then you know how irritating it can be – from itching to burning skin and the desire to cover it up. There seems to be no respite from the frustration. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s map out the common symptoms of psoriasis and the best treatment options you may want to explore.
Psoriasis is a condition that causes skin cells to die faster than normal. When this happens, those dead cells rise to the surface of the skin causing buildup. These cells eventually form into a scaley, red patch of skin that can be itchy and even painful.
No one truly knows the cause of psoriasis. However, experts believe that the problem may lie with T-cells and neutrophils, different types of white blood cells. T-cells are the frontline of defense against anything foreign that invaded our system. When an individual is suffering from psoriasis, their T-cells begin to attack other cells mistakenly. This attack also produces more skin cells than necessary. This is what causes the buildup on the skin.
The symptoms of psoriasis vary from person to person, but some symptoms are quite common.
Remember that these symptoms are different for everyone and may be more or less severe in each person.
Even though the underlying cause of psoriasis is unknown, there may be certain circumstances or situations that can cause flare-ups.
There are some infections that will send your T-cells into hyperdrive. If you’re prone to psoriasis, this reaction may trigger those T-cells to do more than they should and attack the skin cells, causing a flare-up.
2) Cuts or other Skin Injuries
When we injure our skin, our bodies send white blood cells to the injured area to work on healing and regeneration. Those of us with psoriasis will have an overabundance of healthy skin cells replace the damaged ones. This can lead to cell build-up and cause itchy, scaly skin.
3) Smoking and Drinking
As if we didn’t have enough reason to not smoke or drink, knowing that it could trigger psoriasis should really drive the point home.
4) Lack of Vitamin D
The main nutrient we get from the sun is vitamin D. When those with psoriasis are deficient, a flare-up could occur.
There are a number of ways to treat the symptoms of psoriasis.
1) Topical Creams
There are several creams that can be used to alleviate moderate itching and pain. Corticosteroids are most frequently prescribed by dermatologists. With varying strengths, they can be applied to almost all affected areas of the skin. However, doctors warn against prolonged use of these creams as corticosteroids are known to cause skin thinning. Anthralin is another cream used to treat psoriasis. This cream, however, must be used carefully as it is known to stain just about any surface, sometimes even the skin. Topical retinoids are another option, although the side effects (such as skin irritation and increased sensitivity to sunlight) make it a less desirable option.
2) Medicated Shampoos
Many people suffer from scalp psoriasis, so experts have come up with formulated shampoos (such as coal tar and alicyclic acid) to battle the itchy, dry skin in the scalp. Both of these can be purchased over-the-counter.
3) Light Therapy
There are various forms of light therapy (or phototherapy) that can alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis. During treatment, the skin is exposed to either natural or artificial ultraviolet light. This slows down the growth of skin cells and lengthens its life cycle.
Some light therapies are combined with medications to help strengthen the effect of treatment. For example, one treatment combines psoralen (a medication that makes your skin extra sensitive to UV rays) with the exposure of ultraviolet light. This particular treatment, however, is quite aggressive and is used for severe symptoms of psoriasis.
Another popular form of light therapy is the use of the Excimer laser. This is a very precise treatment that targets only the affected skin by focusing a beam of UV light on those areas.
4) Oral Medications
There are also pills that you can take to reduce the effects of psoriasis, including methotrexate and cyclosporine. Both of these are suppressants (methotrexate is an inflammation suppressant and cyclosporine is an immunosuppressant), but they also have worrisome side effects and can only be taken for a short period of time.
Usually taken by injection, biologics are drugs that can alter the immune system. In the case of psoriasis, biologics can potentially stop the rapid death of skin cells. This is an aggressive option since biologics have a severe effect on the immune system and could potentially allow for a serious infection to invade the body.
Every treatment is bound to have both risks and rewards. If you’re in Cincinnati, Ohio or the surrounding areas, you can rely on experts at The Dermatology Group to aid you in choosing the best treatment for your psoriasis. Don’t spend another day with those annoying symptoms. Contact us today!