Beneath the Surface

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Conquering Psoriasis: Taking Control for Psoriasis Action Month

August is Psoriasis Action Month. While there is no cure for this autoimmune disorder, new treatments, technology, and skin-savvy strategies enable today’s patients to thrive.

 

Understanding Psoriasis

We don’t yet know what causes psoriasis. However, experts suspect it’s related to problems with T cells and neutrophils – white blood cells that make up part of the immune system. What we do know is that individuals have unique triggers resulting in flare-ups of the condition. These triggers can include, but are not limited to:

  • Stress
  • Cuts/Scrapes/Insect Bites
  • Drinking
  • Smoking
  • Weather
  • Infections/Illness
  • Other Medications
  • Metals and Jewelry
  • Shaving

And, to make matters more complicated, symptoms and triggers may change or evolve. These complexities make it critical for patients to document triggers, reactions, and rash patterns with each flare and to communicate these issues with a board-certified dermatologist.

Taking Preventative Measures

Once a patient understands his or her psoriasis triggers, they can take preventative measures to avoid or mitigate them. Additionally, individuals with psoriasis can help prevent flares by maintaining a healthy diet and exercise program, participating in stress reduction activities, avoiding tobacco products, shielding their skin from the sun’s harsh rays, and by taking brief showers and using only gentle products. (A dermatologist can recommend appropriate soaps, shampoos, and moisturizers.)

Managing Flares Proactively

Flares will still occasionally occur, regardless of how diligent a patient is about avoiding his or her triggers. When psoriasis becomes symptomatic or worsens, having a management strategy is critical to healing the affected skin.

In general, it’s essential that patients:

  • Do not scratch or further irritate the skin.
  • Do wear loose, comfortable clothing.
  • Do relieve symptoms with cold compresses, medication (as directed by a dermatologist), and moisturizing daily using any recommended creams or ointments.
  • Do communicate symptoms and changes with their dermatologist.

Communicating with a Dermatologist

When someone is living with psoriasis, having a good relationship with a dermatologist is imperative; most patients require four or more visits per year. Fortunately, with DermatologistOnCall, many of those visits can be conducted online from the convenience and privacy of one’s own home. Online visits also make it easier than ever to keep track of condition changes and doctor recommendations. Plus, taking dermatology care online is simple and takes just a few minutes. Patients briefly answer questions about their health, submit photographs of the affected area, and within 72 hours (but typically in less than 24 hours) have a diagnosis, treatment plan, and any necessary prescriptions sent to their pharmacy.

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