Do you feel uncomfortable by the appearance of red patches of scaly skin on your elbows, knees and trunk, or elsewhere on your body? You are not alone. As many as 7.5 million Americans suffer from psoriasis. Many times these patches can be treated with simple non-surgical treatments or medications. Dr. Steve Musick, and his team of highly skilled dermatology professionals are here to help you.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a condition that usually appears between the ages of 15-35 but can onset at any age. It can have uncontrolled flareups and remissions throughout your life. Psoriasis is a genetic disease, and is not contagious. Unfortunately, there is no known cure. However, excellent treatment is available and Dr. Musick will try to minimize your psoriasis with treatments in our facility in Swansea, IL.
What is the main cause of psoriasis?
When you have psoriasis, the lifecycle of your skin cells speeds up. Cells build up on the skin surface before the older cells can be shed. The extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes painful.
Despite being widespread, psoriasis and its causes are not fully understood. It is thought to be an immune system problem, especially relating to your T cells and white blood cells called neutrophils. T cells usually course through the body looking for viruses and bacteria to attack, but with psoriasis, the T cells attack healthy skin cells by mistake. This causes inflammation.
These overactive T cells also trigger increased production of healthy skin cells, more T cells, and other white blood cells, particularly neutrophils. These cells also travel into the skin causing inflammation and sometimes creating pustular lesions. Psoriasis-affected areas become warm and red, due to dilated blood vessels.
The inflammation triggers more skin cells to be produced and they move to the outermost layer of the skin too quickly — a process that should take weeks occurs in only days. These cells build up on the skin surface in thick, scaly patches.
What are the symptoms of psoriasis?
There are many types of psoriasis (see below), most of which go through cycles of flare-ups and calming down. It can even go into complete remission. Signs and symptoms vary between people, but there are some common symptoms:
- Red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales
- Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
- Itching, burning, or soreness
- Thickened, pitted, or ridged nails
- Swollen and stiff joints
- Small scaling spots (usually in children)
- These patches can range from just a few spots to major eruptions that cover large areas of the body.
What are the different types of psoriasis?
This is the most common form of psoriasis, where dry, raised, red skin lesions (plaques) covered with silvery scales form. Areas may be small or large, and they can occur anywhere on the body, even inside the mouth.
Psoriasis can affect the fingernails and toenails, causing abnormal nail growth and discoloration, pitting, and even causing the nail to loosen from the nail bed or crumble.
This type of psoriasis is usually triggered by a bacterial infection such as strep throat, and it usually affects children and teens. Small water-drop-shaped, scaly lesions form on the trunk, arms, legs, and scalp. These lesions aren’t as thick as most other plaques. This type may occur just a single time, or it may have repeated episodes.
It’s thought that fungal infections trigger this type of psoriasis. It mainly affects the skin in the armpits, groin, under the breasts, and around the genitals. Smooth patches of red, inflamed skin form, without the isolated plaques of other types. These patches worsen with friction and perspiration.
This is a rare form that affects the hands, feet, or fingertips. Pus-filled blisters develop quickly, appearing just hours after the skin first becomes red and tender.
This is the least common form of psoriasis. The entire body is covered with a red, peeling rash that can itch and burn intensely. This rare form, as mentioned above, can be fatal.
Treatment Options for Psoriasis:
There are several types of treatments for psoriasis including:
- Phototherapy or light therapy – PUVA, where your skin is exposed to regular treatments using and ultra-violet light under extreme medical direction.
Dr. Musick may prescribe an over-the-counter (retail) topical product, a topical non-steroidal or a topical steroidal cream. Topical medications slow/normalize excessive cell reproduction (flakiness) and inflammation (redness).
For more serious types of psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, Dr. Musick may prescribe an oral medication or an injection biologic medication especially if you have not responded to other medical treatments.
“Beautiful facility, but more important excellent patient services. I have used both medical and spa services; and couldn’t be happier with the service, products, and results.” –S.M.
Who is at risk for developing psoriasis?
Anyone can develop psoriasis, but there are certain risk factors that increase a person’s odds:
- Family history — This is the most significant risk factor. If one of your parents has psoriasis, your odds increase. With both parents having it, they increase even more.
- Viral and bacterial infections — If you’re prone to developing recurring infections, particularly strep throat, this increases your risk. People with HIV are also more likely to develop psoriasis due to their compromised immune systems.
- Obesity — Plaques associated with all types of psoriasis often develop in skin creases and folds.
- Stress — Stress places pressure on your immune system, and that increases your risk of developing psoriasis.
- Smoking — Cigarette smoking increases your risk and potential severity of psoriasis.
Is psoriasis contagious?
Psoriasis looks as if it were contagious, but it is not. You cannot catch the disease by touching someone who has psoriasis.
Can psoriasis be fatal?
Psoriasis in almost all cases is not life threatening; it is simply an ongoing nuisance, as there is no cure. It does not affect the person’s life expectancy.
There is one type of psoriasis, however, that is life threatening. It’s called erythrodermic psoriasis. This is an uncommon, aggressive, inflammatory form of psoriasis. Symptoms include a peeling rash across the entire body. The rash can itch or burn intensely, and it spreads quickly.
“It’s always a pleasure going to Musick Dermatology. They are very knowledgable, helpful, patient and overall a great pleasure to be around! Angela and Dr. Musick make a great pair for all of your dermatologic and cosmetic needs. The staff is great as well!” –A.B.
What foods should I avoid if I have psoriasis?
There is some misunderstanding about psoriasis and its relationship with food. Unlike rosacea and eczema, other skin conditions that make the skin red and inflamed, foods do not trigger psoriasis. With rosacea and eczema certain foods can trigger a flareup.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
Dr. Steve Musick is Board-Certified by The American Board of Dermatology and treats all types of skin conditions in the Swansea, IL and St. Louis metropolitan area. There are numerous treatments that Dr. Musick and his team perform, and it is best to make an appointment for proper evaluation of any skin condition.
To make an appointment, call Musick Dermatology & Advanced Clinical Spa in Swansea, IL today at 618-628-2588. We accept most health insurance programs.