Psoriasis is a skin condition that creates red patches of skin with white, flaky scales. It most commonly occurs on the elbows, knees, and trunk, but can appear anywhere on the body. The first episode usually strikes between the ages of 15 and 35. It is a chronic condition that will then cycle through flare-ups and remissions throughout the rest of the patient’s life. Psoriasis affects as many as 7.5 million people in the United States. About 20,000 children under age 10 have been diagnosed with psoriasis.
People who have psoriasis are at greater risk for contracting other health problems, such as heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and diabetes. It has also been linked to a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, depression, obesity, and other immune-related conditions.
Psoriasis triggers are specific to each person. Some common triggers include stress, injury to the skin, medication allergies, diet, and weather.
Psoriasis is classified as mild to moderate when it covers 3% to 10% of the body and moderate to severe when it covers more than 10% of the body. The severity of the disease impacts the choice of treatments.
Mild to Moderate Psoriasis
Mild to moderate psoriasis can generally be treated at home using a combination of three key strategies: over-the-counter medications, prescription topical treatments, and light therapy/phototherapy.
Controlled exposure of skin to ultraviolet light has been a successful treatment for some forms of psoriasis. Treatments for Moderate to Severe psoriasis include prescription medications, biologics, and light therapy/phototherapy
Sunshine (both UVA and UVB rays): Sunshine can help alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis, but must be used with careful monitoring to ensure that no other skin damage takes place. It is advised that exposure to sunshine be limited to controlled, short bursts.
PUVA: This treatment combines a photosensitizing drug (psoralens) with UVA light exposure. This treatment takes several weeks to produce the desired result. In some severe cases, phototherapy using UVB light may lead to better results.