Psoriasis is a common disease with variable presentations. Recently, socialite Kim Kardashian spoke out on her experience living with it. Psoriasis often presents with a scaling rash but it is not contagious. This chronic disorder affects more than 7 million Americans. Most people develop psoriasis between the ages of 15 and 35 but I have seen it present at age 70.
Psoriasis involves the immune system as part of the pathophysiology. In psoriasis, T cells (a type of white blood cell) are put into action through immune stimulation. The most common organ affected is the skin. Over activation of certain cells known as plasmacytoid dendritic cells results in inflammatory chemical activation affecting skin cell turnover. In psoriasis, the skin cell growth occurs faster than normal. The result is thick, red patches of skin. There are several rash types that can occur in different patients.
These patches are scaling and typically occur on the elbows, over the knees and along the buttocks. They may appear on other parts of the body as well. Patients with psoriasis often have nail changes known as pitting.
Psoriasis can also cause a very debilitating and inflammatory arthritis- usually of the fingers and hands. Psoriasis doesn’t always show itself; a person can have good days and bad days with the disease. There are things that can make psoriasis worse starting with stress, weather changes, medications, and infections.
The most common form of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis, which around 5 million people suffer from in the United States. Psoriasis can vary from mild cases (covering less than 3 percent of the body) to severe cases (covering more than 10 percent of the body).
To diagnose the condition, a doctor can usually tell if the scaly or rough patch if skin is psoriasis, but sometimes a biopsy is needed. It’s best to seek medical attention for abnormal skin issues so you don’t ignore something potentially serious or mistreat the ailment.
The treatment for psoriasis is different for each person. Things doctors will use for treatments include: coal tar topically, topical corticosteroids, vitamin D analogs and salicylic acid ointments. There are oral medications sometimes prescribed in conjunction with UV radiation therapy in severe or diffuse skin involvement. Immune suppressant medications (injectable) are also used for severe cases especially if arthritis is present. The rash will usually persist or recur if not managed.
If you have any skin conditioning that is impacting your life negatively, embarrassing you, or worrying you, contact a doctor as soon as possible. Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness of Fort Myers, can look at your skin and determine the next steps. To book an appointment, click here or call 239-352-3005, ext. 200.