Rebecca Fitzgerald (Dermatologist) gives expert video advice on: How is psoriasis diagnosed by a dermatologist?; How can I prevent psoriasis flare-ups? and more...
What is "psoriasis"?
Psoriasis is a chronic, benign, inflammatory disease of the skin where the skin grows much faster than it otherwise would.Because of that very, very rapid growth, it can't exfoliate off like normal skin can. It's growing 1 times faster than normal skin.So because of this, all this sort of thick, adherent scale sticks on the skin.The extent of skin involvement in psoriasis can range from small, minute patches to very, very large areas of the body, sometimes covering over 5 percent of the entire body surface area.
What are the most common symptoms associated with psoriasis?
The most common symptom of psoriasis is the formation of patches on the skin that seem to show up out of absolutely nowhere. You just wake up one morning and all of a sudden you have red patches on your back, your knees or your elbows and you don't really know where it came from. Occasionally these psoriasis patches can burn or itch.
How is psoriasis diagnosed by a dermatologist?
It's a clinical diagnosis for the most part. Occasionally that needs confirmation by biopsy, but it's unusual.
What are some available treatments for psoriasis?
There is as yet no known cure for psoriasis, but there are a lot of treatments that are used to control psoriasis. That treatment is sort of done on a tiered basis, the first tier being topical treatments, which are convenient because you can use them at home whenever you feel like it, but inconvenient because you have to rub a bunch of stuff on your body a couple times a day. The next tier of treatment is light therapy using phototherapy boxes in combination sometimes with medications that make you more sensitive to the light. There is actually a laser now called the eczema laser that also provides that light. The next tier of treatment are medications, systemic medications. These are immunosuppressant medications, chemotherapeutics, and a whole new group called the biologics. In the decision to use any kind of medication for any kind of disease that has to be made on something, on a risk / benefit, a favorable risk / benefit ratio. Those medicines for psoriasis are strong enough that they are reserved for people with body surface area covering 30% or more with psoriasis.