Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that is typically chronic. It can vary from mild to very severe. It can be with or without joint pain.
Psoriasis is not contagious but can run in families.
Causes of Psoriasis
Exact cause is not known, but it is believed that the immune system plays a key role. The immune system activates T-cells (a type of white blood cell) and this causes the skin to grow too quickly. Skin typically replaces itself every 30 days, but in a person with psoriasis, the skin replaces itself about six times faster.
People typically have things that “trigger” psoriasis.
- Certain Medications
- Cold, dry winter weather
- Lack of sunlight
- Injury – appears 10-14 days after
Types of Psoriasis
There are five major types of psoriasis:
- Plaque Psoriasis
- Guttate Psoriasis
- Pustular Psoriasis
- Inverse Psoriasis
Smooth red lesions in skin folds.
- Erythrodermic Psoriasis
Psoriatic arthritis develops in 10-30% of people with psoriasis. This is typically chronic joint pain. Medication can prevent joint problems if started early. Without treatment, permanent degeneration can occur
Treatment of Psoriasis
Psoriasis cannot be cured. Treatments can be very effective in controlling it, however.
Types of Treatment
- Light Therapy
Creams, ointments and lotions may clear the skin by reducing inflammation.
Form of vitamin D that controls growth of skin cells.
Ultraviolet light slows rapid growth of skin cells
This is an anti-cancer medication that can clear psoriasis. Regular blood tests are needed because of the effects of the medication on the liver.
This can cause dryness of the skin. It can be prescribed alone or in combination with UV light. Regular blood tests are needed.
This medication suppresses the immune system and is usually used to prevent organ rejection in patients who have received a transplant. Regular blood tests are needed.
These medications are typically given by injection or infusion. They are unique in that they pinpoint the exact part of the immune system that is involved with psoriasis.
There are many different biologic medications that may be used, given at different intervals.