Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic (long-lasting) disease. It develops when a person’s immune system sends faulty signals that tell skin cells to grow too quickly. New skin cells form in days rather than weeks.

The body does not shed these excess skin cells. The skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin, causing patches of psoriasis to appear. You cannot get psoriasis from touching someone who has it. To get psoriasis, a person must inherit the genes that cause it.
Types of psoriasis

If you have psoriasis, you will have one or more of these types:

  • Plaque (also called psoriasis vulgaris)
  • Guttate (small spots, often develops suddenly, usually after an infection, most notably strep throat. Guttate psoriasis is not contagious.  It cannot spread to other people.)
  • Inverse (also called flexural psoriasis or intertriginous psoriasis).
  • Pustular  (small pus filled blisters on a red base)
  • Erythrodermic (also called exfoliative psoriasis).

Some people get more than one type. Sometimes a person gets one type of psoriasis, and then the type of psoriasis changes.

How do dermatologists diagnose psoriasis?

To diagnose psoriasis, a dermatologist may:

  • Examine a patient’s skin, nails, and scalp for signs of psoriasis.
  • Ask whether family members have psoriasis.
  • Learn about what has been happening in the patient’s life. A dermatologist may want to know whether a patient has been under a lot of stress, had a recent illness, or just started taking a new medication.

Sometimes a dermatologist may remove a bit of skin (a skin biopsy) to send to a dermatopathologist.  This is to confirm the diagnosis. By looking at the removed skin under a microscope, one can confirm whether a person has psoriasis.

How do dermatologists treat psoriasis?

Treating psoriasis has benefits. Treatment can reduce the signs and symptoms of psoriasis. This usually makes one feel better. With treatment, some people see their skin completely clear. Treatment can even improve a person’s quality of life.

Treatments aim to:

  • Interrupt the cycle that causes an increased production of skin cells, thereby reducing inflammation and plaque formation.
  • Remove scales and smooth the skin, which is particularly true of topical treatments that you apply to your skin.

Psoriasis treatments can be divided into three main types: topical treatments, light therapy and systemic medications.  Creams and ointments can effectively treat mild to moderate psoriasis. When the disease is more severe, creams are likely to be combined with oral medications or light therapy.  Ask one of our doctors which regimen might be best for you.  Your psoriasis can be treated with topical, oral or injectable medications, as well as a specialized unit to treat psoriasis limited to the hands and feet