Beneath the Surface

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What You Should Know for Psoriasis Awareness Month

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis [suh-rahy-uh-sis] is a common and persistent inflammatory skin disease that affects approximately 7.5 million people in the United States. It is characterized by thick, red, scaling plaques that are covered by a flaky, white buildup of dead skin scales.

psoriasis care and treatment

Psoriasis is non-contagious but chronic. It can affect the scalp, arms, elbows, knees, legs, trunk and back. One variation, inverse psoriasis, can affect the underarms, groin, buttocks, genitalia and under the breasts. Psoriasis also tends to develop in areas of trauma, including cuts and scratches, and in areas of severe sunburn.

Because patients are most concerned about how psoriasis looks, it can have a significant impact on a person’s self-esteem, often leading to depression, embarrassment and social isolation. Psoriasis tends to be seasonal, improving during the spring and summer with exposure to sunlight, and getting worse in the fall and winter when exposure to sunlight decreases.

What causes psoriasis?

Psoriasis tends to be hereditary and can be triggered by a number of factors, including:

  • Emotional stress
  • Anxiety
  • Recent infections, such as strep throat
  • Exposure to certain classes of medicines, including lithium, antimalarials, beta blockers, interferon and corticosteroid withdrawal

Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption may cause psoriasis to flare and make it more resistant to treatment.The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, but it is both a hyper-proliferative and inflammatory/autoimmune skin disorder. T-cells, a type of white blood cell, are mistakenly activated, causing the skin to grow too rapidly. Normally, the skin replaces itself every 30 days; for people with psoriasis, the skin is replaced over 3-4 days.

The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, but it is both a hyper-proliferative and inflammatory/autoimmune skin disorder. T-cells, a type of white blood cell, are mistakenly activated, causing the skin to grow too rapidly. Normally, the skin replaces itself every 30 days; for people with psoriasis, the skin is replaced over 3-4 days.

How is psoriasis treated?

There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are a number of excellent treatment options that help keep lesions relatively clear most of the time. Treatment usually involves a combination of topical therapies in the form of corticosteroids, Vitamin D, immunomodulators (tacrolimus ointment and pimecrolimus cream), and moisturizers. Biologics, a new class of protein-based drugs derived from living cells, are sometimes used to treat severe cases of psoriasis. A board-certified dermatologist can prescribe medication to help treat psoriasis flare-ups.

Getting treatment for psoriasis

On average psoriasis patients see a dermatologist about four times a year. To save time and make appointments more convenient, many patients utilize online care with DermatologistOnCall. Online dermatologists are able to securely look at your uploaded photos, review your medical information, and prescribe treatment without you having to wait for an appointment and travel. Start an online dermatology visit today, and don’t forget to use the promo code BTS2016 through August 31, 2016 for $5 off your online visit*!

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The descriptions and images are not meant to serve as a diagnosis.

*The online visit fee does not cover the cost of prescriptions or any in-office follow-up appointments. There is no limit to the number of online visits for which you can use the promo code. Discounts cannot be used in combination with accepted insurance plans. Offer expires at 11:59 PM PST on August 31, 2016.

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